Arizona high school football pushes high school football back to the end of September and early October

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The start of Arizona high school football is moving again. The Arizona Interscholastic Association has announced that it’s moving the start of the regular season from September 11 to September 30 through October 3 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Originally, the 2020 Arizona high school football season was scheduled to start August 21 with practice beginning at the end of July. Under the new plan, Fall football practice will begin on September 7.

“The health and safety of our student participants, coaches, officials and essential personnel, including volunteers, is the primary concern for the return of interscholastic athletics and activities,” said AIA Executive Director David Hines. “We are very grateful to those who share our commitment of a return to these highly beneficial educational activities and athletics.”

Read: Brophy Prep won’t start practice until September 8

The state championships for the Open Division, 6A, 5A and 4A classifications will be played December 11-12. The 3A, 2A and 1A classifications are discussing the length of their regular seasons and when to hold the state championships.

Below is the entire news release from the AIA:

The Arizona Interscholastic Association’s Executive Board, at a special meeting on August 5th, approved a fall 2020 interscholastic athletics calendar. The following information is the result of many productive meetings with the Executive Board, associated committees and correspondence with member schools.

Note that the resumption of all athletics and activities are subject to change based upon changes to national, state or local guidelines, or government directives.

Start dates listed at the bottom of this release

“The health and safety of our student participants, coaches, officials and essential personnel, including volunteers, is the primary concern for the return of interscholastic athletics and activities,” said AIA Executive Director David Hines. “We are very grateful to those who share our commitment of a return to these highly beneficial educational activities and athletics.”

The Executive Board has voted for a phase-in, or staggered, beginning of fall sports. The start dates of each sport were identified based on information received from member schools regarding student and personnel safety, and what is most easily administered by athletic directors and coaches.

Executive Board members, who are representatives of member schools, were concerned that the ability to create a uniform interscholastic environment would be challenging as each school district is autonomous in their decisions as to when to return to in-person instruction. Ultimately, the proposed schedule was approved. The mental health and well-being of the students were key in this approved proposal.

“We owe it to our members to provide a direction,” stated Executive Board President and Safford Athletic Director Toni Corona. “It may be challenging to get everything going for all the schools at one time but with good communication, we can provide the best possible experience for our students in this unprecedented time. This Board and the AIA staff will continue to provide information and guidelines as we proceed.”

All fall sports will continue to operate under out-of-season/summer rules as per AIA Bylaws and Policies until the first permissible day of practice for each sport.

Fall sports now have an abridged regular season to accommodate for the amount of time available before winter sports begin. All fall sports will have an opportunity for a championship tournament. The minimum number of contests to qualify for the postseason, regular season maximums, region tournaments and all postseason qualifying procedures will be determined by region and conference committees as soon as possible. Due to the late start of the fall season, the Executive Board approved the winter season to begin one week later than normal.

This new schedule does allow for schools and districts who are not able to start on the earliest possible date to join competition when feasible and still be eligible for the postseason, provided those school teams meet conference minimums.

“We would like to thank our member schools and our school communities for their patience as we worked through the challenges to develop this plan,” Hines said.

Once conference committees have completed the amended scheduling process, all schedules will appear live on AIAonline.org and AZPreps365.com.

Modifications for fall sports will be sent to all member school athletic directors and administrators so they can be prepared to enact the plans once they are able to practice with their student-athletes.

For the schools that have already canceled their fall seasons, Hines and the Executive Board will continue to work with those schools to offer opportunities for students to participate and provide as complete an experience as possible in these unusual circumstances.

Spiritline tryouts may begin as early as August 17th based on a school’s particular needs. However, stunting may not begin until September 7th.

As previously shared with member schools, Esports registration is currently ongoing with a preseason start date of Sept. 15.

Golf
First practice – Aug. 17
First competition – Aug. 24
Championships – Oct. 26-29 (Div. I), Nov. 2-5 (Div. II)

Cross Country
First Practice – Aug. 24
First Competition – Sept. 9
Championships – Nov. 12-13

Swimming & Diving
First Practice – Aug. 24
First Competition – Sept. 14
Championships – Nov. 5-7

Badminton
First Practice – Aug. 31
First Competition – Sept. 14
Championships – Nov. 7 (Individuals), Nov. 9-12 (Teams)

Fall Soccer
First Practice – Aug. 31
First Competition – Sept. 16
Championships – Nov. 4-7

Volleyball
First Practice – Aug. 31
First Competition – Sept. 21
Championships – Nov. 12-21

Football
First Practice – Sept. 7
First Competition – Sept. 30-Oct. 3
Championships – Dec. 11/12 (4A-6A & Open)

The 1A-3A conferences are currently discussing possibilities for length of their regular seasons and when to hold state championships.

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Jeff Fisher
Jeff is an award-winning journalist and expert in the field of high school sports, underscored with his appearance on CNBC in 2010 to talk about the big business of high school football in America. Jeff turned to his passion for high school football into an entrepreneurial venture called High School Football America, a digital media company focused on producing original high school sports content for radio, television and the internet. Jeff is co-founder and editor-in-chief of High School Football America, which is a media partner with USA TODAY High School Sports.