High school football games officially begin Tuesday for Prince William County and Manassas Park programs. Here are five things to know for a season like no other.
SCHEDULE ALTERED FROM THE GET GO: All five games scheduled for Monday were moved to Tuesday because of the impending bad weather or, in the case of George Mason-Brentsville, no referees showed up.
Monday’s postponements impacts teams playing Saturday as well. Hylton at Colgan, Manassas Park at Central-Woodstock, Forest Park at Freedom and Potomac at Woodbridge will now go this coming Sunday at 1 p.m.
In addition, last week’s snow left grass fields at Gar-Field and Brentsville unplayable, forcing their opening games to move to turf fields at Potomac and Patriot.
To help offset the missed practice days from snow a week ago, local teams received permission from the Prince William County School District to practice on Sunday.
With a tight schedule where teams are playing six games in seven weeks, there’s little wiggle room for rescheduling or even practicing unless some exemptions are permitted.
SPECTATORS: In accordance with Gov. Northam’s order, a maximum of 250 spectators can attend outside sporting events.
Prince William County Public Schools are allowing spectators in, but only for the home team. The games are not open to the general public. There is no charge to attend the football games.
Priority seating will be given to the families of seniors who have participants or performers at the game. Citing the spectator guidelines for Season 2, the county school system said the “rotation of seat allotments may be used to provide every family an opportunity to attend as spectators at some point during the season.”
Cheerleaders, dance team and marching band members are allowed at games and won’t count against the 250-spectator limit, county schools spokeswoman Diana Gulotta said in an email.
The only exception to the no-visitor, in county spectator rule is Brentsville. Brentsville is the only Prince William County member of the Class 3 Northwestern District, which is allowing visiting fans to attend outdoor events.
Osbourn High School in the city of Manassas will only allow home spectators and cheerleaders at all home events. Admission is free to the Eagles' home events.
Manassas Park is allowing home and visiting fans. Athletic director Dan Forgas said they are meeting the 250-person requirement through a reserved seating arrangement where 150 tickets are set aside for two parents each from the visiting team and 100 tickets for the home team. Forgas said one parent per player is allowed admission. The other football player’s ticket will go to cheerleaders and marching band as well as some cheer and marching band parents.
Manassas Park is only selling tickets online.
TURNOUT: As expected, COVID has impacted roster numbers for area teams. Osbourn, Unity Reed and Manassas Park will only field varsity programs this season. There is no freshman football in the Cardinal District and only Battlefield, John Champe and Patriot will have freshman teams in the six-team Cedar Run District.
PROTECTIVE COVERINGS: Prince William County Schools mandates that football players wear masks in games, but they will allow the players to wear the ski style masks that can make it easier to insert and remove their mouth guards. In some cases, players have worn these types of masks anyway to keep warm in cold temperatures.
Players can also wear shields attached to the front of their helmets as well as just regular-style masks pulled around their ears. Manassas Park only requires its players to wear masks on the sidelines. Forgas said the school is providing the players with a mask.
HOW TO WATCH THE GAMES: The NFHS Network will stream all the games for a cost. A monthly and annual subscription is available for purchase.