Football Coming Back!

The Ricebirds will be able to celebrate scoring on the football field again this season. The UIL Tuesday announced that El Campo High School and other area schools can continue as planned in August. Pictured are now graduated seniors Matthew Van Gorp (52) and Joshua Mendoza (46) celebrating a takeaway during the Ricebird’s third-round playoff game last season.

After months of wondering about when, or if, football and other Fall sports will be played in 2020, the University Interscholastic League (UIL) announced for classifications 4A and below, everyone will continue as planned. 5A and 6A schools will be pushed back one month.

“Our goal in releasing this plan is to provide a path forward for Texas students and schools,” UIL Executive Director Charles Breithaupt said. “While understanding situations change and there will likely be interruptions that will require flexibility and patience, we are hopeful this plan allows students to participate in the education-based activities they love in a way that prioritizes safety and mitigates risk of COVID-19 spread.”

For all the schools inside the Wharton County coverage zone, teams will be able to practice as planned in August.

“I’m actually really excited to spend my last year here (playing),” El Campo senior center/linebacker Oziel Alanis said. “I was bummed out when they were talking about not starting the season but it’s great news now.”

Alanis, like many other Ricebirds, have been taking part in the school’s offseason strength and conditioning program since it was allowed in June.  While questions lingered if they were going to play, he put it out of his mind.

“To be honest I was just pushing through it,” Alanis said. “I (was) thinking we were going to have a season, so I wasn’t really worried about it.”

Alanis’ final season with the Ricebirds, younger teammates have also been putting in the time during summer workouts to be ready for whenever they were going to start.

“We just kept working I knew we were going to have a season,” incoming sophomore running back/defensive back Rueben Owens II said. “This coronavirus isn’t going anywhere. So I’m just happy we’re going to have a season.”

Now that players, parents fans know the season will start as planned, the challenge now begins for coaches.

With 5A’s moving back one month, the Ricebirds lost two games. El Campo Athletic Director Wayne Condra will now have to try and find a week two home replacement for Fulshear and a week five home game against Boerne-Champion which leads into district play.

“For us it’s a good deal, we get to stay on track and get the season started on time,” Condra said. “Our only problem is we’ve lost two football games and I don’t know if we’ll be able to replace them. So right now we’ve only got eight football games.”

Not only do the Ricebirds have to find a school that’s now looking for a game, but as a successful program, they have to find someone willing to play them.

El Campo’s problem is compounded because the game with Boerne-Champion is before their bye week. If they don’t find a game, the Ricebirds will have two weeks off before starting district.

“It puts us in a bind,” Condra said. “We’re just going to have to see where we’re at and go from there.”

Because of local guidance from Houston and Corpus Christi finding a game for El Campo might involve a lot of travel if they can even find one.

El Campo’s schedule: 8/28 - at Gonzales, 9/4 - home Fulshear (canceled), 9/11 - at Calhoun, 9/18 - home Wharton and 9/25 - home Boerne-Champion (canceled).

District play: 10/9 - home Stafford, 10/16 - at Brazosport, 10/23 - home Bay City, 10/30 - home Columbia and 11/6 - at Needville.

LOUISE HORNETS

Offseason strength and conditions hasn’t been for naught. Practice will happen on Aug. 3 as originally planned.

“There was a lot of questions (about) what was going to happen and a lot of uncertainty,” Louise Athletic Director Joe Bill said. “But we’re glad we have something we can base decisions on and our perperation on so we can continue to move forward and we can start on time.”

While the Hornets aren’t hurt with the delay of 5A and 6A schools, the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools which is the governing body for private schools in the state, said they are going to move their season back one month. With the move, the Hornets have lost their week three game with Sacred Heart in Hallettsville.

If the Hornets can’t find a replacement, it could offer them an important rest before heading into district play.

“Even though we lose a ball-game there, it might allow us to get a couple of games under our feet and take a week off and regroup and prepare,” Bill said.

Louise Hornets schedule: 8/28 - at Danbury, 9/4 - home Bloomington, 9/11- at Sacred Heart (canceled) and 9/18 -  Bartlett. District: 9/25 home Runge, 10/2 - at Agua Dulce, 10/9 - at Woodsboro, 10/16 - at Falls City, 10/23 - home  Pettus  and 10/30 - at Yorktown.

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