Fayette County


McIntosh prepares for football season amid pandemic

A masked McIntosh coach runs drills during a pandemic practice. Photo by Christopher Dunn

by Elijah Smith ~ via the McIntosh Trail

The spread of COVID-19 has affected almost every aspect of everyday life. Over the past few months, people have been waiting for a “return to normalcy,” and sports fans around the world suffered through a sports-less summer. 

Now, we are seeing the return of sports like the NBA, MLB, and NHL back in full swing, and high school sports in Georgia are (mostly) proceeding on schedule. 

With school back in session, the question arises how COVID-19 will affect football season locally. At McIntosh High, they’re working on controlling what they can control ahead of their . 

“Our number one priority is to be focused on training, X’s and O’s, and anything you can do to mitigate the virus,” said McIntosh head coach Lee Belknap.

GHSA has slowly rolled out guidelines on how teams can practice and play together in a safe way. On August 26, GHSA announced that all Georgia high school football team’s seasons could start the week of September 4, with most schools forging ahead. 

The rules don’t just affect the players, but also the crowd and the game day experience as a whole. 

“First and foremost, we want to see fans in the stands, but we still have to follow CDC guidelines on large gatherings,” said Belknap, “We hope to have 50 percent capacity, but let’s find a way to get parents of the players into the bleachers.

The county is working on a contingency plan if they can’t put anyone in the seats.

“If we’re not able to have fans in the stands, the district has a plan to live stream the games,” he said. 

Belknap also said that the stadium capacity count will not include McIntosh’s cheerleaders and marching band that help make Friday nights under the lights so special. 

“It’s more than just playing an instrument or shouting a cheer, they want the experience,” he said. “You can’t go back and make memories, you only have one shot.”

The Chiefs kick off the 2020 season Friday, Sept. 4 at home against Luella. 

A masked McIntosh coach runs drills during a pandemic practice.
Photo by Christopher Dunn