BY WENDI REARDON PRICE
Clarkston News Sports Writer
Gridiron heroes are scheduled to open the fall season against Pinckney in the fifth annual Battle at the Big House, Aug. 27.
Amid the coronavirus pandemic and Governor Gretchen Whitmer extending the stay-at-home order to June 12, coaches and players are preparing to have a season.
“We are proceeding like we are going to have a season,” said Kurt Richardson, longtime head coach for Clarkston Varsity Football last week. “Right now, the status is a go status until someone tells us differently.”
“We have a glimmer of hope for the fall,” added Clarkston Athletic Director Jeff Kosin. “The MHSAA (Michigan High School Athletic Association) made a statement fall sports are a go. However, it can all change with the governor’s final say.”
Richardson added he hopes athletes have been staying active and in shape on their own.
“I want the kids active,” he said, adding the cancellation of the spring season will make an impact.
“I want them playing. I am big on them playing other sports anyway,” Richardson added. “I think there are lessons to be learned playing other sports and also skill development playing other sports. It hurts a little bit. For the track kids, that’s a whole spring they would have been getting faster. The lacrosse kids, they should be doing all those things. Those skills transfer over to us so if they are just sitting on the couch then those skills aren’t being developed.”
Another impact on athletics is Clarkston Community Education last week cancelling all the camps for the summer. Some of the camps include those for football, volleyball, basketball, baseball, softball and lacrosse.
“It puts us in a little bit of a pickle,” Kosin said. “You look at our Wolves Football Camp with Coach KR and Fife Camp, those are things our kids would be participating in and they are no longer available to our kids this summer. There are some good, and then there’s that when you take a step in the opposite direction.”
The MHSAA put new rules in place during the annual Spring Meeting of the Representative Council, May 4. One of the changes includes athletes could participate in five quarters a week in football and basketball.
For football, it could move junior varsity games to Saturday. If varsity players didn’t play in the game on Friday, they would be eligible to play in a JV game.
Richardson added it helps the smaller schools which may not have enough players for each level. He explained Clarkston has a good amount of players on each level.
“I don’t want to take away from the kids who didn’t play on Friday and send them down to JV on Saturday morning to play JV and take up the JV kids’ time,” he explained. “I just want to let the JV kids play JV and the varsity kids play varsity.”
More changes include getting rid of the dead week.
“They came out and said it is an individual school can make the decision to lift the dead period this year,” Kosin said. “If indeed we do go back, we can take the choice of saying we’re not going to have a dead period and that kids will be able to participate year round. There are things they have put in place to have you believe there is going to be a fall, but no one really knows to be honest with you.”
Another change is the number of 7-on-7 competition. The council approved a committee recommendation allowing schools 15 summer dates of non-mandatory contact with an unlimited number of players with “schools may use these dates as they see fit, but of these 15 only seven dates may be used for 7-on-7 competition against other teams. This also eliminates the previous allowance for a camp.”
Kosin added 7-on-7 competitions are booked for Tuesdays and if the only ten allowed in a grouping continues, they can do 5-on-5.
“There’s your ten,” Kosin said. “You have your quarterback and only four receivers and on defense five linebackers, or whatever you need. If the ten rule still applies, there are ways to do it.”
He noted that the MHSAA is meeting again in June.
“There is a lot of unknown,” Kosin said, adding there are a lot of variables. “When you look at fall sports, girls golf should play, boys tennis should play. Is it every kid has their own ball and no one is touching if the ball goes out of bounds and you have a spectator with gloves on throwing it back to the kid? Does every kid have their own ball they put in their pocket and that’s it? You aren’t exchanging ball after ball.”
He added, he thinks about an indoor sport like volleyball where it could be a problem.
“A lot will depend on what colleges choose to do, too,” he said. “If NCAA lifts that, high school sports might follow, but you don’t know. You hear all sorts of conversations.
“It is a very unprecedented time,” Kosin added. “I don’t know what this is going to do to athletics. You look at our seventh and eighth grade football, are parents going to want their kids out? Are we going to have to go back to one team for seventh grade and one team for eighth grade? Concussions really dropped our sports, is this going to take away from sports as well? Are parents going to be leery of having kids participate? If we do go back, who knows what that looks like.
“Is it a certain number of kids who participate, are coaches and kids wearing masks?”