Cleared to play: Reactions from High School Football Coaches

By Jordan Spurgeon

The Arizona high school fall sports season will continue as scheduled, following a special meeting called by the Executive Board of the Arizona Interscholastic Association on Wednesday.

In this meeting, they voted to endorse the latest safety guidelines that were recommended by the Sports Medicine Advisory Committee for the safe implementation of a return to sports.

Cactus high school head football coach Joseph Ortiz was ecstatic to hear the announcement.

“I haven’t been this excited since last season,” Ortiz said. “It’s been a long time coming and I’m just so happy that our guys will have the opportunity to compete this year as scheduled.”

The first official football practices can begin on Sept. 7, with the season openers set for Sept. 30 through Oct. 3.

Qualifications for postseason appearances are still being worked out, according to a statement from the AIA.

This decision clears the way for teams to advance their prep for the season, but not all districts in Arizona are cleared to play yet.

In Pima Valley, athletics aren’t allowed to resume until all schools allow their students to return to campus.

Marana high school head football coach Louie Ramirez is glad that the AIA gave the green light for fall sports to play, but knows his team can’t play yet.

“We’ll be ready to compete as soon as we get back in the classroom,” Ramirez said. “We have to follow the guidelines set by the superintendents of our county.”

Ortiz said his team has been clamoring for this opportunity and is just glad this long process has come to somewhat of a conclusion.

“This whole process has been tough,” Ortiz said. “We’ve adapted to the Zoom landscape, but nothing beats the feeling of knowing that we can prepare our team for a real season.”