By Bill Spinks
Will fall high school sports take place in Texas this year? The answer to that question has suddenly gotten a lot less certain.
The first shoe dropped on Thursday, when Dallas County ordered more than 50 public and private high schools to delay all in-person classes and extracurricular activities — including sports — until after Sept. 7 because of the surging COVID-19 pandemic.
The order does not directly affect Ellis County schools. However, it means cancellations of some early-season football and volleyball games that had been scheduled against Dallas County teams.
For football, the list of affected games for Ellis County teams is short, but it includes one big one: Waxahachie’s season-opener at Rowlett.
If the suspension should be extended, it would also directly affect the Indians, whose district includes Duncanville, Cedar Hill and DeSoto. The only 11-6A rivals of the Indians that are unaffected right now are Mansfield High, Mansfield Lake Ridge, Waco and Waco Midway.
The only other Ellis County football games in jeopardy at the moment because of Dallas County’s ordered suspension are Italy’s Week 1 game at Dallas A+ Academy, and Red Oak’s Week 2 contest at Sachse.
The Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools on Friday suspended all athletic competition within that organization until at least Sept. 8, meaning Ovilla Christian School’s first game against Waco Christian on Sept. 4 is off. OCS had an open date in Week 1.
The University Interscholastic League so far has held off on making any ruling on cancellations, leaving that decision up to local authorities. The Austin American-Statesman reported Friday that the UIL is expected to make an announcement regarding fall sports on Monday.
Schools in the Houston, Austin and El Paso areas have also suspended sports for at least the early part of the fall.
The Dallas County order lasts through the first two weeks of football season and covers the first month of volleyball, and also affects the fall sports of cross country and team tennis. Football practice officially begins Aug. 3, and the first volleyball games are scheduled for Aug. 10.
So far, the Lady Indians’ volleyball schedule is not directly affected, but they are entered in tournaments at Mansfield, Trophy Club Nelson and Leander in which Dallas County schools may be entered and forced to withdraw.
WHS team tennis will see an Aug. 14 match at Garland Naaman Forest canceled. A Sept. 8 district match against Cedar Hill will likely need to be postponed since it comes a day after the suspension ends.
The Indians’ cross country schedule for this fall has yet to be announced.