PORTSMOUTH — Apparently, and fortunately, the Chesapeake Panthers are playing this fall after all.
That’s because following a crazy, but “scary”, say 16 hours — the Chesapeake school district has reversed course, and its suspension of all of its fall sports and extra-curricular activities only lasted for one night.
Late on Tuesday, the Chesapeake Union Exempted Village Schools said its extra-curricular activities and fall sports programs can proceed forward — following a decision by the district’s Board of Education on Monday night to halt them immediately.
That decision — in response to the ongoing coronavirus threat — drew widespread outrage and condemnation, and was met with protest prior to nightfall near Chesapeake’s Phil Davis Stadium.
Earlier on Tuesday, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine decided that fall “full contact” sports could continue in the Buckeye State, as an Ohio Department of Health order effective on Friday (Aug. 21) clears the way for inter-squad competition.
However, DeWine did leave the real go-ahead with fall sports up to individual school districts, as several throughout the state have already altogether cancelled —or at least delayed them until Oct. 1.
Under an official ODH order, which was signed on July 4 and since extended twice, all inter-squad scrimmages and games for “full contact” sports could not take place — “unless ALL teams comply with the requirements outlined in Section 10 of this (ODH) Order to minimize the spread of COVID-19. This Order applies to both public and private activities and facilities.”
In an e-mailed memo to member schools on July 28, the OHSAA (Ohio High School Athletic Association) announced the immediate and indefinite suspension of ALL inter-squad scrimmages and contests — and didn’t anticipate that suspension was lifted time soon.
That suspension will now be lifted, as the soccer season is officially set to start on Friday — with the first weekend of football throughout the state set for the final weekend of this month.
Chesapeake became the first known Southeast District school to — albeit briefly — suspend all fall sports activities, including its 2020 football season.
The Panthers are a member of the Ohio Valley Conference along with Portsmouth High, and the two are scheduled to play at Chesapeake on Sept. 18.
The OVC, on Tuesday, was in the process of revising its initially-revised football schedule.
In fact, Fairland — the Panthers’ archrival and original week-one opponent following the revision — found Oak Hill to play in the opener, as the Oaks also needed a game.
But back in are now the Panthers, and back out are unfortunately for the Oaks.
As part of the formal proposal put together and released on Aug. 7 by the OHSAA, all Ohio high school football teams will play only six games in this regular season —which will begin the week of Aug. 24 and end the week of Sept. 28.
The playoffs would begin on Friday, Oct. 9 — with the state finals ending no later than Saturday, Nov. 21.
This season’s OVC schedule features each team’s original week-five through week-10 opponents — although they are now flipped, so their initial week-10 tilt is now the season opener.
In addition, there is one opponent that will not be on each team’s slate — as original week-four foe Rock Hill is that squad for the Trojans.
Portsmouth hosts highly-touted and defending Division V state runner-up Ironton (Aug. 28) in its opener, as it then travels to South Point (Sept. 4) prior to facing Fairland (Sept. 11) at home.
The Trojans then travel to Chesapeake (Sept. 18) and Coal Grove (Sept. 25), before hosting Gallia Academy in the now new regular-season finale.
The OHSAA also announced on Tuesday that once the ODH order becomes effective on Friday (Aug. 21), it will permit one football scrimmage for each school —for this weekend only on either Friday or Saturday.
That announcement sent schools scrambling to book scrimmages, although once again Oak Hill —and East —even remain without regular week-one games.
Green was another team, until Sunday, searching for a non-league season opener —but the Bobcats picked up Fairfield Christian for a 7:30 p.m. home bout on Aug. 28.
Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @BoggsSports © 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved