High school football players are waiting. Waiting to see if the lights will turn on, on Friday nights. To see if the band will play or if the whistle will blow. But some players showed that they’re done waiting.
“It’s heartbreaking,” said Bloomfield football coach Ty Outlaw. “Guys have been moving around to play football.”
Two of Bloomfield’s players made the decision to move to states where football was starting close to, if not right, on time. Outlaw said one linebacker went to Texas, while one of the state’s leading quarterbacks moved to Oklahoma. The Warhawks are on track to start games within CIAC guidelines on Oct. 1 if the COVID-19 metrics stay as they are or improve.
In New Haven, the promise to play is farther away. The city’s health department paused high-risk sports beyond conditioning and so, Hillhouse coach Reggie Lytle said a center and a cornerback left the Academics for Texas.
“Some of these kids are hard to replace,” said Lytle. “You're never going to see this kid again. The talent, the speed.”
No states have canceled football, but only 14 are starting with little to no modifications. NFHS executive director Karissa Niehoff said because of that, transfers are becoming a national trend.
“We feel at this point to transfer solely for athletic purposes, probably short-sighted,” said Niehoff. “We would hope that families consider the broader picture of what moving means.”
The COVID-19 positive test percentage in Connecticut is just under one percent, while its 9.3% in Oklahoma and 12.3% in Texas.
“Those are hot spots to me,” said Outlaw. “I would have thought that people would be coming to Connecticut.”
But with college scholarships on the line, players and families are weighing one type of exposure against the other, leaving high school football coaches waiting to see what their rosters will look like when they get to play again.
"If we were playing, they would be here,” said Outlaw.
“Can't blame them,” said Lytle. “I just wish them luck... It's tough, it's tough, it's tough.”