by Dom Savino
“It’s game on!”
That’s the declaration from the NJSIAA, which confirmed on Thursday that New Jersey high schools will play football this fall.
Football practices will begin across the Garden State on Monday, September 14, and Opening Day is set for Friday, October 2, according to the return-to-sports plan created by the NJSIAA’s Sports Advisory Task Force.
The plan, which establishes restart dates for all fall and winter sports, also provides a contingency plan in the event football cannot be played this fall due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Should that be the case, the season would be postponed to the end of the winter, with practices starting on February 16 and games beginning on March 3.
“Our kids need structured activity, and we believe that education-based high school sports is the best way to provide it,” NJSIAA COO Colleen Maguire said in a statement. “Giving teenagers extra motivation to stay COVID-free promotes healthy outcomes for everyone.”
The plan additionally outlines some details for a potential football postseason, which “will be structured regionally based on counties or based on NJSIAA Sections.”
Any playoff games would be played from November 13 to November 22. A seeding committee–rather than the United Power Rankings–would be used to select playoff teams.
To read the full return-to-sports plan, click here.
The announcement follows comments made by Governor Phil Murphy at his regular COVID-19 press conference on Monday, in which he supported the return of New Jersey high school sports this fall and indicated that all high schools–even those that are using remote learning full-time–can participate in sports.
“Whether that student is seated in a socially-distanced classroom or at their kitchen table does not matter. They are a student of that school and they can play for that school,” Murphy said.
Despite all the details provided in the four-page plan, the NJSIAA adds a disclaimer that has become a common refrain in restart plans across the globe: “This plan is fluid and may be changed at any time based on either guidance from the Department of Health or Governor-mandated changes to the school day.”
Central Jersey Sports Radio will begin its first season of game broadcasts with an Opening Weekend doubleheader. Our tentative matchup for Friday, October 2 is a battle of old Mid-State foes as Westfield visits Union. And on Saturday, October 3, CJSR will broadcast the first game at the new Brenner Family Field as St. Joe’s-Metuchen hosts Elizabeth.
To view our tentative broadcast schedule, click here.