Column: Fingers crossed as NFL tries to pull a season off

FILE - In this Saturday, Dec. 17, 2016 file photo, The St. John Bosco Braves celebrate their 56-33 defeat of De La Salle to win the Open Division high school football championship game in Sacramento, Calif. The California Interscholastic Federation, California's governing body for high school sports, said Monday, July 20, 2020 that the 2020-21 sports seasons will begin no earlier than December due to the coronavirus pandemic. The CIF said the normal fall, winter and spring sports seasons will be condensed into two seasons.

The Pennsylvania Scholastic Football Coaches Association has given the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association a proposal for structuring a fall high school football season.

The proposal, first reported by Chris Harlan of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, includes nine scenarios that vary by length of season, starting date, number of regular-season games and the existence and structure of playoffs.

“We have a very good relationship with PIAA,’’ Garry Cathell, Executive Director of the PSFCA, said Monday. “By no means are we saying, ‘This is what we have to have.’ We’re just trying to be proactive.’’

Cathell declined to share details of all the scenarios, but did say they range from a full-length season to a seven-game season, starting in mid-October and ending in mid-December, with no playoffs.

“They have sent us a number of ideas for what I would describe as the ‘what-if’ stage,’’ Robert Lombardi, Executive Director of the PIAA, said Monday.

“We’re not there yet. If we get to that stage, certainly those proposals will be part of our discussion.’’

Heat acclimatization practices for football are scheduled to start Aug. 10, with regular practice to begin a week later and the first scrimmages a week after that. The first games of the season would then be played Aug. 28.

Cathell said PIAA still considers that to be the plan, and every PSFCA scenario includes three weeks minimum of practice before games are played.

“I’m optimistic,’’ Cathell said, while acknowledging, “We’re at the mercy of the governor’s office, the (state) department of health, the department of education and the individual school districts. If they say they don’t want to play, they won’t play.’’

If the football season is canceled or shortened, Cathell said the PSFCA is planning to hold combine workouts to give Pennsylvania's senior players college exposure. Those combines would be videotaped, live-streamed, and held all over the state.

“We really want to make sure football players get some film,’’ Catchell said.

All of the PSFCA scenarios are based on playing football in the fall. PIAA Executive Director Bob Lombardi has previously said he would not favor moving football to the spring.

Cathell said, however, that a proposal that’s being considered in other states is on the PIAA’s radar: Playing a football season (and, conceivably, other fall sports) in March and April and spring sports in May and June.

The PIAA Board of Directors is holding a working session tomorrow and a formal meeting Wednesday, at which detailed guidelines for the playing of every fall sport are expected to be announced.

“We’re going to get a lot of questions and concerns answered (Wednesday),’’ Cathell said.