Decision to postpone HS sports in New Mexico impacts Texas teams

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Another big domino in scheduling changes due to COVID-19 fell on Thursday afternoon when New Mexico governor Michelle Lujan Grisham announced that fall contact sports, including football, would be postponed in New Mexico until at least the spring.

“No contact sports are going to be permitted this fall,” Grisham said at her press conference on Thursday. “This has been a decision that we have been doing a fair amount of hand-wringing on because sports are incredibly important to the individuals who play them. But these contacts sports are just too high risk.”

This will impact at least 21 scheduled games and 19 UIL teams from across the state for the 2020 Texas high school football season with teams affected from Class 1A all the way up to 6A.

One of the teams affected is the Wellington Skyrockets, a 2A school in the Texas Panhandle, which were scheduled to play Clayton High School from New Mexico in week one.

“We knew that losing Clayton [in] game 1 was a possibility when COVID-19 started because of the way the state of New Mexico has handled things differently than here in Texas,” Wellington head coach Greg Proffitt said. “It is not ideal, but hopefully, we can find another school who is in a bind like us and possibly meet halfway and get a game in.”

Springlake-Earth coach Israel DeLeon was also prepared for the possibility of losing his team’s week one game against Dora, New Mexico.

“I was aware of New Mexico’s strict COVID policies so I was not surprised,” DeLeon said. “I immediately contacted an organization I am a member of to let them know I would be looking for a week one game.”

Luckily for DeLeon and his Springlake-Earth team, Whitharral, another six-man school, had also lost a week one game scheduled against Elida, New Mexico. These two teams were able to come to an agreement to square off in Whitharral on August 28th at 7:30.

Others weren’t as lucky. The hardest hit school by this decision is 4A Clint Mountain View in El Paso County. The Lobos had three games scheduled against New Mexico schools in non-district play as they were to travel to Ruidoso, New Mexico and Hatch Valley, New Mexico in weeks one and four and play host to Chaparral, New Mexico in week three.

At the 6A level, three games were impacted as El Paso Franklin loses their week one game against Rio Rancho, Wolfforth Frenship loses their week two game against Clovis, and El Paso Coronado loses their week three game against Carlsbad.

There is a good chance that these are not the last schedule changes for Texas high school football either. This will be a developing story as other states make decisions about what their high school seasons will look like as teams at the 6A level currently have games scheduled against schools from Arizona, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Mexico.

“This season is sure to be an interesting season anyway; we just got the excitement started a little sooner than everyone else,” Proffitt said. “At this time, I just hope there is a game 1 of the 2020 Texas high school football season.”

With coaches and the UIL having no control over the decisions other states make, adaptability will be the key as the season nears and COVID-19 continues to impact all facets of life.

“Just like we preach to our athletes, we will just have to play the hand we are dealt,” Proffitt said.

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