MHSAA announces plan to finish fall sports, re-start winter sports
Wed, 11/18/2020 - 4:12pm caleb
If current suspension of sports ends as scheduled, football playoffs would resume in mid-December and winter teams would begin competition in early January
Caleb Casey | Managing Editor
The Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) announced on Wednesday, November 18, its intentions to finish the remaining playoff tournaments for the fall sports – including football – in December and begin competition for winter sports in January.
“The Representative Council of the Michigan High School Athletic Association approved today an adjusted schedule to restart and conclude fall tournaments in football, girls volleyball, and girls swimming & diving, and also to resume winter sports after the three-week ‘pause’ in activity ordered by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) scheduled to end December 9,” according to a press release issued by the MHSAA on November 18. “The MDHHS announced November 15 a three-week pause to various activities including school sports, effective November 18, in hopes of halting the state’s rising infections due to COVID-19.”
For the winter sports season, girls basketball teams in Michigan started official practice sessions on Monday, November 9. Practices for wrestling and boys basketball were slated to begin on Monday, November 16.
For fall sports, most volleyball teams in the state have finished their seasons, including the Vikings of Grayling High School. GHS does not have a girls swimming & diving program.
The varsity football team from Grayling High School is still active in its playoff run. The Vikings have won three playoff games this year, defeating Benzie Central (47-12) in the first round of districts, Manistee (49-14) in the semifinals, and Boyne City (28-20) in the finals. The victory for Grayling vs. Boyne City on Saturday, November 14, clinched the Division 6, Region 21, District 42 championship for the Vikings, their first district title since 2005. Grayling’s 2020 overall record is now 6-3.
The Vikings were slated to host the Negaunee Miners, an Upper Peninsula team, on Friday, November 20, or Saturday November 21, for the Division 6, Region 21 championship, but the recent order from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services for high schools to suspend in-person learning and cease extracurricular activities for three weeks left the status of the game uncertain. The Miners defeated Gladstone (28-14) in the first round of the district tournament, Ishpeming Westwood (42-14) in the semifinal round, and Calumet (20-19) in the Division 6, Region 21, District 41 championship game. Negaunee also has an overall record of 6-3 right now.
According to the MHSAA, its current plan – if the MDHHS doesn’t extend its suspension of high school sports – is for football playoffs to resume in mid-December.
“Eleven-player regional finals and eight-player semifinals would be played Tuesday, December 15, and Wednesday December 16; 11-player semifinals and eight-player finals would be played December 21-22, the eight-player championship games at Midland Community Stadium; 11-player finals will be played Monday, December 28, and Tuesday, December 29, at Ford Field,” according to the MHSAA.
For volleyball, “quarterfinals in all four divisions would be played Tuesday, December 15, with semifinals played December 17-18 and finals on Saturday, December 19. Those final two rounds would be played at Battle Creek’s Kellogg Arena, as previously scheduled,” according to the MHSAA.
For swimming & diving, the finals are now set for December 22-23.
Under the MHSAA’s plan announced on November 18, winter sports teams would resume practices on December 9 and games and meets would be allowed to begin on January 4.
“We understand where COVID numbers were trending, and that’s why we have been supportive of the order to pause,” MHSAA Executive Director Mark Uyl said. “But these fall sports deserve closure, and this strategy provides the best opportunities without further interruptions to a normal course of training and competition.”
“A very small percentage of our teams remain active in our fall tournaments, also limiting potential exposure to the virus across the state. Meanwhile, by waiting until January to begin winter competition, the (Representative Council) is allowing our teams to continue activity but also restricting the mixing of communities to further promote reducing COVID spread,” Uyl said.
The MHSAA still has to review its plans for winter sports playoff tournaments.
“The (Representative Council) meets again December 4 for its annual fall meeting, and at that time will consider possible tournament adjustments necessary due to the shortened winter competition season,” according to the MHSAA.
Eric Tunney, coach of the Grayling High School varsity football team, said his team will be ready if the playoffs resume.
“We will wait and see. We’ll do our best to keep the kids active and engaged; obviously it has its difficulties being all virtual. We’ll be ready if we get the call,” Coach Tunney said.