Having waited longer than the rest of central Ohio to begin the fall sports season, City League programs are getting closer to returning to competition, with some football teams set to kick off Sept. 17.
Columbus City Schools announced Aug. 27 that programs in cross country, football, golf, soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball had been cleared to resume practicing after being suspended since Aug. 14 because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
“We think the week of Sept. 14 is probably as best we can do since most schools outside of the City (League) have already started,” Beechcroft boys soccer coach Derek Hone said. “Most of our teams are still in the process of getting legal paperwork and getting their teams and cultures back together. (The) 2020 (season) will be quite different for us.”
In 2019, there were seven City-South Division and seven City-North programs in boys soccer and a combined six girls soccer programs among the two divisions. Mifflin beat Briggs 2-0 for the boys title and Whetstone defeated Centennial 1-0 for the girls championship.
According to Hone, once an official schedule is completed, it is expected that each of the soccer programs will only play other City opponents and then have a City tournament rather than entering the Central District postseason.
“We’re just excited to have the opportunity to play in 2020,” Hone said. “There was an effort to create a (Beechcroft) girls program this fall and that has fallen through so we will be adding a few females to our roster and adjusting to the different dynamics this season. (This year) has provided a little reflection on perspective and priorities.”
City football programs returned to practice Aug. 29 and will hold a three-week regular season that begins with three games Sept. 17, two games Sept. 18 and two games Sept. 19.
Teams then will have the option of competing in the OHSAA postseason, which begins Oct. 9, with a City playoff tentatively to begin Oct. 30.
One proposal that was floated by City coaches before practice reconvened was an all-City schedule in which its programs would opt out of the OHSAA postseason.
Walnut Ridge coach Byron Mattox, whose team went 11-1 and reached the second round of the Division II playoffs last season, is excited about the opportunity for his team to compete this fall.
“We were just trying to put some ideas out as far as a complete City League unit so that if things did move forward at that time that we wanted to have some input and something in place,” Mattox said. “We are excited to get back with the kids from all sports and get back to work.”
The Whetstone boys golf program has won 11 of the last 12 City titles and also is hoping to begin its season soon. The Braves, who began practicing again the week of Aug. 31 after having their season suspended, have senior Eric Verway-Cohen, junior Eli Krabill and sophomores Paul Buterbaugh and Demond Smith as returning letterwinners.
“I considered the summer, with all the interruptions, a coachable moment in dealing with adversity,” coach Tom Philip said. “Through all of this, I think that they appreciate golf even more.”