High school sports return to Butler County

Charles Chaney
Butler County Times Gazette

For five months, it’s something every player and coach had hoped would happen. It did happen on Monday evening at respected high schools from around the state.

The official start of high school athletics.

Five months and six days since the cancellation of high school sports in March have led to this moment. Coaches all summer have been taking the extra precautions to make sure their players are safe in hopes of being able to play on Friday nights.

“You know, we had pretty tight restrictions all summer,” El Dorado Head Coach Wes Bell said. “I think for our guys it’s becoming second nature.”

With the start of high school athletics, it appeared to be a little different. Players regulated players to spread out in El Dorado, forcing “split” sized gaps, which is approximately three yards, or nine feet, from one another.

“Our players are a little older than last year and it’s showing through their accountability,” Bell said.”

In Augusta, the told them hats on or masks on. There was no option as the coaching staff quickly kept players in line. It’s something they had done all summer. Players are buying in and understand what is at stake.

“We’re the luckiest kids in the state,” Augusta Jason Filbeck said. “We’re still going to get play football.”

While the state of Kansas kicked off their seasons, the questions remain about how COVID-19 will affect the season and how and if there will be games. KSHSAA has stated over and over their intent to have games played. They are leaving it up to the counties to make the best decisions for their districts.

We have seen in Wyandotte County and in Kansas City, there will be no athletics in the fall, due to the large number of outbreaks in that area. Places as Ford County are addressing how to handle the situation in their own neck of the woods.

“We just want to hopefully play our games,” Bell said. “Our guys understand what we have to do to get there.”

In Butler County, the districts are continuing to make sure the best plan is in place to be safe.

Almost all districts are expected to have some restricted attendance in some shape or form, it is just how it will be implemented. As one athletic director said, it has to be uniform. You cannot let a soccer game, which may have 40 spectators in the stands go unenforced but enforce a football game.

That’s one of the tough questions controlling the county as they kick off.

“I just want them to appreciate that we are in the spot we are at,” Filbeck said. “You have to cherish every spot you’re at.”

Sometimes, the first day is more about just getting the paperwork together. Multiple schools reported players not having their physicals yet, so they were held out of practice.

Day one in the books and with another one coming tomorrow. Football is back.

Butler County Times Gazette