PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — High school football is back in Rhode Island, but instead of playing in the fall, games will take place in the spring.
R.I. Department of Environmental Management Director Janet Coit said Thursday high schools will be allowed to resume “higher-risk outdoors sports,” most notably football and lacrosse, with COVID-19 modifications in place.
Keith Croft, the head coach of the Bishop Hendricken High School football team, said both he and his team were ecstatic to get back on the field for practice Monday.
“You’re happy for the kids and coaches and parents, especially the senior parents, who I think were struggling with it,” Croft said. “Knowing that your kids have worked for this, sometimes their whole life, and have their senior year and possibly not play, it’s a great moment for them.”
Croft said right now, he’s focused on getting his team ready to go for the start of the season.
“The timeline pretty much, is we’re going to be practicing now, games would start right around the middle-to-late March, and it could possibly end as late as the last week in April,” he said.
The season will both look and feel different, since players will be required to wear masks under their helmets and the number of players allowed on the sidelines will be limited.
“I think for a lot of us is an adjustment period, it’s going to be tougher for the kids to breathe,” Croft said.
But Croft said despite the changes, it’s a season he and his team has been waiting for, and he’s hopeful players across the board will do what’s best for the game.
“I think they saw the importance of sports and what they can do for kids and families,” Croft said of the state. “They needed it during this time so, I’m glad we have a shot to play. It’s a long season, lot can happen and hopefully we can stay healthy.”
“I think with all coaches in Rhode Island, the big thing we are worrying about is hopefully our athletes can make really good decisions about where they go and who they are with, because we don’t want any outbreaks for any teams,” he continued.