High school sports as it was is not coming back soon, but the 2020 version 2.0 is here and it feels good to capture sports again. With limited schedules for the fall season all sports other than football started on October 1st, football starts on October 2nd. With a full slate of football, soccer, boys and girls, field hockey, girls tennis and cross country on there respected opening days the athletes, coaches, and fans have something to cheer about since a few months ago it did not look promising for any sports to be played this fall. The two indoor fall sports, girls volleyball and gymnastics have been pushed out until after the new year. As a sports photographer, getting behind the camera and following play through the little window of a view finder never felt better than today. It really does feel good to have something to follow live, in person, capturing what athletes love to do…….compete.
We left the 2019-2020 HS sports season last March where everything was shut down before basketball could finish its tournament and hockey and indoor track were able to just squeak by to their championships. Spring sports season was a no show due to the pandemic and doubt was cast on this school season up until late August. Baseball was able to show up with the Last Dance Tournament, which had over 200 teams of high school athletes competing for trophies and bragging rights. Cranford won it all in late July against Jackson. It didn’t replace the spring season, but it gave last years seniors some closure from the lost of their final high school baseball season.
The fall sports season is six weeks long with a shortened playoff format. Athough football traditionally plays one game a week, the other sports did not have restrictions on the amount of games played in a week until this year. There is a limit of 14 games for soccer, with each team playing two games a week for the most part. There is an exception to play 3 games in two different weeks, but there is no more than 14 games with a limited state tournament at the end. The state tournament will have six regions that will be seeded by a committee, with the higher seed having home field advantage with no neutral site games. No group championships, and no TOC for the fall season in any sport.
Football started with the most restrictions due to the state guidelines for attendance, the limit of 500 fans that can attend. It also had the most cancelled games in week one for any of the fall sports, mostly precautionary due to third party contact notices in the reports that I have read. The season will encompass 6 games and then a two game extension that will be played by teams that opt in. The extra games, it will not be a playoff, will be based more on geography than school size and there will be enough 4 team pods to satisfy all schools with intent cards submitted and will play both weeks. As is with all other sports, there will be no titles at the end of the 8 game season.