MIAMI — Normally, Miami head football coach Zach Gardner might have liked to have a second scrimmage heading into the season.
But this might not be a regular season.
“It is a two-way answer with the situation. Obviously this year with COVID, I want to play a game if we get a chance to play a game because we are week-by-week,” said Gardner.
The Wardogs open the 2020 season Friday night, hosting Dewey in a Week Zero game.
The Miami School District has implemented a number of safeguard measures in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
• • The only personnel allowed on any playing fields before, during, and after the event are: Players, Coaches, Game Officials, and School Administration (includes all practice facilities)
• • Social distancing (at least 6 feet) is encouraged at all events
• • Face coverings for everyone are HIGHLY encouraged when social distancing cannot take place
• • Although sportsmanship is a vital part of the athletic experience for all student-athletes, teams will not shake hands before, during, or after events to decrease contact as much as possible
• • All gate and concession workers will wear a face covering and gloves
• • Signage will be posted at our athletic facilities encouraging the practice of social distancing and masks
• • Public address announcement will be made periodically throughout contest encouraging these guidelines
Also, group-sponsored tailgates prior to games will not be held.
However, the area on the west side of Red Robertson Field will be blocked off to allow private tailgate parties.
In another change, the Dog Walk will take place on the east side of the field.
“We will have guidelines in place to help keep our student-athletes, coaches and game day personnel healthy and safe,” Miami athletic director Chad Davis said. “We ask that our fans practice safe social distancing and wear a mask or face covering while attending any of our athletic events.
“Our No. 1 priority is the health and safety involved of everyone involved with Wardog athletics, and taking necessary precautions to keep our kids on the field.”
This is the third straight season MHS has passed on a second dress rehearsal to play for keeps.
The OSSAA implemented its Week Zero rule in 2015, allowing teams to play a full 10-game schedule over 11 weeks.
Miami had opened the 2018-2019 seasons against Claremore Sequoyah and wrapped up non-district play with Tahlequah Sequoyah, which has cancelled football and all other extracurricular activities for the first nine weeks of the season.
“Hopefully we don’t ever get shut down, but there’s already been some negative factors for some schools that have already opened up,” Gardner said. “We are healthy. In scrimmages, sometimes freak things happen, but I would just as soon play a game if we can get one, then go to the next week and just complete the season.”
“Right now, we are not taking anything for granted. I think it’s really affected the kids in a more positive mental manner as far as them understanding the situation, especially the senior group. We’re not going to just maybe show up and have a season. We’re going to have to show up and play each week like it’s our last. I feel like they are preparing like that more mentally than possibly what the kids have the last few years.”