It goes without saying that—as with everything else around us— this will be a football season like no other, due to COVID—19 and its continuing effects. But play on we will, at least in our part of the country, and I’m glad that we will.
Certainly, a case can be made for not returning to the field, as this diabolical pandemic has not run its course. However, when all factors are taken into consideration, it says here that it’s time to tee it up and hear some leather pop, for the following reasons.
- In Mississippi, COVID cases have decreased in number for four weeks in a row now. That’s a good sample size.
- In many cases—and I’m referencing the colleges particularly on this—the student-athletes are safer than they would be otherwise. With all the testing, protocols, and medical monitoring being done at USM, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, and other schools, the players are under more control than the average person.
- Mental health: you have to balance this in there as you do with other aspects of life. We should all be absolutely following guidelines such as masks and social distancing, but sooner or later some normalcy has to return to our daily lives as well.
Enough of that pontificating; we hear all such discussions ad nauseum on the news every night. I just wanted you to know where my mind is on this. Now, let’s talk some real pigskin.
- Pascagoula goes into Coach Lewis Sims’ tenth season opener as head coach expecting to return to the Panthers’ formerly familiar station as serious contenders. Last year’s very young squad was 6-6 and made the playoffs. This year, look for big things from QB Kailon Parnell, RB Kavon Barnes, and LB Karon Leverette. Goula hosts George County to open the season this Friday, September 4.
- Moss Point will feature sterling senior QB and electrifying WR Larry Simmons. The Tigers host Ocean Springs to kick things off.
- Other season openers:
Resurrection (always quite successful lately) travels to Bogue Chitto
Gautier hosts Hancock
Vancleave hosts East Central in a big rivalry game right off the bat
St. Martin travels to Saint Stanislaus (Battle of the Saints?)
As the season gets into full gear, we’ll come back with more commentary on how our local teams are doing. In fact, next week I plan to have a column based on an interview I just did with Coach Sims.
By the time you read this, Southern Mississippi will have probably already kicked off the college season for us by hosting South Alabama on September 3. This has the making of a good backyard rivalry over the years.
Ole Miss and Mississippi State will start out with the rest of the Southeastern Conference on September 26. The Rebels will host Florida, while the Bulldogs travel to LSU. Hey, Lane Kiffin and Mike Leach in the Magnolia State together—should be fun.
The Saints will host Tampa Bay on September 13 when the NFL rolls into action. The law of averages says that New Orleans deserves a break or two this year to go along with the team’s immense talent.
So how will all this close contact football go within the realm of this pandemic? The NBA and PGA have done remarkably well with their restarts; major league baseball has had some fits and starts.
I believe that our local high schools and colleges have prepared well for the teams to go forward. Protocols are in place, and crowds will be limited in size. Let’s do our parts as pertains to safety measures, hope for the best, and give it a try—we need it. Like I always say, see you at the stadium.
Richard Lucas may be contacted at [email protected]