09-10-2020 Tri-City Area Sports

Coloma Press Box By Dave Vollrath

All fall sports reinstated by the MHSAA Rep Council; YES including football! It was 3:58 p.m., on Thursday, Sept. 3 when the MHSAA (Michigan High School Athletic Association), sent out an email announcing that their Representative Council had decided to move forward with the high school fall sports season, including the reinstatement of football, which had previously been put on the shelf until spring. The decision was made following the governor’s executive order #176, which lifted the restrictions that had made playing close contact sports impossible. With football already postponed until spring, no decision had been made on milder contact sports. The Comet volleyball and soccer teams were left with the opportunity to continue practicing but were not allowed to compete with other schools. This order which includes the opening of the high school gyms for competition will allow the Coloma volleyball team, which has been practicing outdoors for many weeks, to move back inside still under the COVID-19 safety protocols. It has not been decided, at the time of this writing, exactly how many spectators will be allowed to attend the contests but it will probably be an issue that evolves as the season moves forward and specifics of the COVID-19 virus change week to week. It was certainly a welcome decision in this part of the state, giving the Coloma Comet student athletes the opportunity to return to some sense of normalcy with schools now also back open for learning. All Michigan schools do not have to play sports this fall, and may also choose to play these sports in the spring if they do not feel it is safe enough in their opinion. However, the championships in all fall sports will take place following the balance of the normal fall schedule. No championships would follow for any schools that decide to hold off playing until spring. The decision to reinstate football by the representative council of the MHSAA was not made without a great deal of research. The states which border Michigan all competing on the grid iron already are experiencing no apparent ill effects associated with the virus. In fact Michigan became the 34th state, or 68% of all the states who are allowing high school football to take place. Coloma Comet head football coach Joe Stephens was very happy about the decision, even though a great deal of preparation will have to be crammed into a short time frame. High school athletic directors were also sent scrambling to either reinstate the schedules already in place, or possibly plug holes in the schedules made by schools who decide not to play this fall. According to Coach Stephens, the Coloma varsity was back on the practice field on Tuesday and the first game is to take place on Sept. 18 at Delton-Kellogg. The MHSAA has stated that the football schedule will begin in week 4 of the schedule and then played out as it’s listed. Coloma, and all schools playing this fall, will play out the remaining six games on the schedule and then all will move into a reconfigured playoff format. The MHSAA championships will take place just one week later than normal, the week after Thanksgiving weekend. The Comets began football practice under the COVID-19 guidelines, with helmets only, back in August but a halt was put on the season by the football governing body after only four practices. Preparations were then being made to play football in the spring, which would have also affected all spring sport scheduling. The Friday night lights will once again be glowing and showing the way for the out of town football fans to follow. However so much more goes along with the football season as it relates to the overall high school experience. The homecoming activities normally revolve around and conclude with the kings and queens being crowned, and culminating with the homecoming dance. Pep rallies, dress up days, all of these activities are a tremendous bonding opportunity which brings the students, faculty members, and fans closer. As previously stated the Comets will begin on the road Sept. 18 at Delton-Kellogg, next up will be K-Zoo Hackett on the 25th at home, on Oct. 2 the Comets will host Fennville for their homecoming game and associated activities. The final three games on the Comet schedule are Parchment away, Watervliet at home, and Constantine on the road. The first week of the playoffs will begin on Oct. 30, and all 11-man and 8-man teams will be included. While the football team will have another couple of weeks to prepare for their first game, the Coloma boys soccer team will be allowed to begin competition immediately and the girls volleyball team will be allowed to start playing games on Sept. 9. Because there have been many cancellations of games and tournaments in these two sports, I hesitate to list any games here. It would be best to check the Coloma Community Schools website for athletic schedules for all sports, including both high school, and junior high. Attendance at all events will also be limited based on what phase we may be in, in Reopening Michigan Safely. The Coloma Comet Press Box is extremely, (times a billion), happy the state is opening up high school sports for competition again. It has been a very long six months without it. Looking on the bright side, this absence of games which normally takes up the bulk of this column was quite a challenge to bring all things Green and Gold and keep it interesting and educational enough to keep fans following. I believe in the absence of names and statistics, we were able to dig deeper to give readers a more in depth look at the lives and background stories of the players and coaches, and administrators, which we are normally forced to skim over because of space limitations. As we applaud the reopening of our sports, we have to be most pleased that our student athletes will get to enjoy all that their high school experience has to offer and the memories and lifetime friendships that they are building. Comets back to rockin’ and rollin’!