High school teams were allowed to jump to 50 player groups and use sport-related equipment starting Monday.

One small step toward fall sports and another giant leap for mankind. Neal Armstrong’s first expedition of the surface of the Moon had a little more certainty than the one facing the Georgia High School Association and the high school coaches scrambling to prepare for a season that may or may not happen.

COVID-19 halted high school sports back on March 13. Since, any step taken has been a ginger one.

Monday marked the next phase of the plan to return to games as the GHSA relaxed a few of its restrictions on the conditioning practices that began two weeks prior.

Teams are now allowed to meet in groups of 50 alternative to the 25 that had been allowed the week prior. Sports related equipment was allowed in workouts for the first time as well.

It doesn’t mean sports are back. It is one of the multiple steps that will happen on the way back to the playing fields.

There hasn’t been a committal to a fall sports season happening as of yet and there are still concerns if schools will open in the fall due to the pandemic.

Coaches have been cautiously optimistic in the last three weeks.

“It’s just another step,” Prince Avenue Christian School football team head coach Greg Vandagriff said. “Two weeks ago was step one. This is sort of step two to getting back to normal. We’re looking forward to it. It’s great having everybody together. It’s not everybody, but we have a lot of the kids together.”

It’s admittedly been a difficult ask for coaches.

Coaches make a point to plan ahead. The pandemic has changed nearly every few hours. The World Health Organization reported the highest number of new COVID-19 in a single day throughout the entire pandemic on June 22.

WHO announced an additional 183,000 new cases worldwide.

The truth appears to be that nobody truly knows what to expect in the coming weeks. That reality makes planning difficult.

“I don’t know that you can be totally comfortable just yet,” Noland said. “I’ve been confident about the precautions that we’ve taken. We haven’t been inside yet. There are so many uncertainties and unknowns; I don’t know when we’ll feel confident. We just take it one day at a time. It seems like everyday something changes with football and nationally with the virus and positive tests and negative tests... The hard part will be having a plan when possibly every week someone could test positive. One week, you could be without your starting quarterback, the next week, you could be without four starters. That’s the hard part. Until some of the social distancing guidelines are changed, I don’t know how we’re going to have school.”

The Warriors have yet to workout in their weight room. Noland didn’t push the Warriors to the new 50-person in the first week.

Noland wants to see how things settle around the state before making the move with the Warriors in case an outbreak strikes his team.

“Until we get more bodies out here, you’re not going to know whether it’s affecting you or not,” Noland said. “Eventually, if we’re going to have a season, there has to be a team together. Right now, there’s not. That’s why we didn’t change this week. If for some reason we have a positive test this week, I didn’t want half the team to be out when we come back from break. If we had someone test positive in a group, we’d be down 18 instead of 50.”

Some decisions could come following the dead week beginning on June 29 and running through July 6. Teams won’t be allowed to meet or conditioning during that period. When they return there will be three weeks prior to the official first day of fall practices.

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