PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Governor Doug Ducey has said schools plan to open in-person on August 17, which heavily influences whether or not the high school football season will pan out.
In addition to figuring out the monumental tasks of which learning options to offer and how to logistically implement them successfully, they also had to figure out how to provide in-person learning safely.
Per the Arizona Interscholastic Association [AIA], schools need to be operating in-person. That's standard across the state, but summer team workouts operate on district rules, and every district has its high school football teams working out in different capacities.
The fate of the season will rely heavily on schools meeting in-person.
At Brophy Prep, their in-person start date is delayed until after Labor Day, meaning the workouts won't advance past phase one anytime soon.
"We're at nine kids to one coach. We're in different pods on the field, which is no more than 36 kids at a time," Brophy Head Football Coach Jason Jewell said. "Ultimately, football is not played like that."
Given Brophy's predicament, being ready to play full contact football by September 11 would be highly unlikely.
"If we’re going to be in phase one during that time between August 17 and September 8, how can we move through the different phases of football to be able to play a game on September 11 when our varsity is supposed to be able to play?" Jewell said. "The odds are that come kickoff that first game -- we wouldn’t be able to play on that calendar."
At Saguaro, the Sabercats plan to begin in-person schooling on August 17, on track to compete in their first game on September 11. But a month and a half out, practices are still focused on conditioning.
"We're probably in the middle of the pack with what we’ve been able to do," said Saguaro Head Football Coach Jason Mohns. "Some teams are in a much worse position than us, and they’re going to have to do everything in three weeks, and do I think that’s enough time? Probably not."
The Paradise Valley School District [PVUSD] had a special meeting regarding starting phase one, impacting schools like Horizon High School. Until this ruling went in Horizon's favor on July 31, the Huskies weren't able to work out.
Some schools have had fewer restrictions from their district and have been working out longer than others.
If every school is operating differently, leading up to the season, is it an even playing field once the games begin?
"In football, we all play by the same rules in a game, so why on our offseason rules does everybody get to operate on different rules?" Jewell said. "You know, some kids in some districts are out throwing a football around and we’re not allowed to do that."
"Some school districts have been off all summer and haven’t allowed anything,. Some school districts have been on since June 1 with no break or with one week only," Mohns said. "I know the Chandler district, they’ve only been off for one week since June 1. We started on June 8. We were on for two and a half weeks, and then we got shut down for three and a half weeks, so I think there are some discrepancies as far as the development of players in certain programs."
The AIA sent out a questionnaire to football coaches across the state to further discuss start dates and moving forward with the season.