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We have a plan.

There will be high school football in Texas.

The UIL announced Tuesday a plan to not only have fall sports, including football, volleyball, cross country and team tennis, but to allow schools to have a full schedule of games.

There's one big difference in the scheduling: The bigger schools (Class 5A and Class 6A) will postpone the beginning of fall sports for a month while the smaller schools (Class 4A and below) will begin football practice in two weeks at the original Aug. 3 date that had marked the first day teams can practice.

Corsicana, the only Class 5A school in the Golden Circle, will begin practicing on Sept. 8 and begin volleyball games on Sept. 14 and football games on Sept. 25.

The Class 5A and 6A football playoffs will start later and run past Christmas and into January, but coaches and players all over Texas know that once you reach that pinnacle of success no one really cares when or where you play.

Hopefully by then there will be a vaccine and a different climate for the COVID-19 pandemic that has ravaged the nation. The UIL and local coaches both emphasized a safety-first attitude when the announcement was made.

"We will put the safety of our student-athletes first, and have the protocols in place,'' said Corsicana Athletic Director and head football coach Hal Wasson, who -- like coaches around the state -- has been holding voluntary summer workouts with a long list of safety protocols since June 8.

"I'm really proud of our kids, They have practiced social distancing and have worn masks during the workouts, and we have done temperature checks and followed the protocols," he said.

Wasson said recently that he anticipated the season would be delayed, and was glad to finally hear a decision had been made.

"It's good news for us. It doesn't affect our schedule," he said of the delayed season that will not limit games. There had been talk of playing a limited schedule (district games only). 

"I thought they would delay the season," he said. "But we will play our schedule. I think everyone is happy that we will be have a football season."

Corsicana's first football game will be a home game against The Colony on Sept. 25. The smaller schools in the Golden Circle will play their first games on Aug. 28.

"I feel good. I'm glad we're playing football in Texas," Mildred Athletic Director and head football coach Duke Dalton said.

"We've had summer (voluntary workouts) and we haven't had any problems with COVID. They (students and coaches) have done a good job sanitizing and following the (safety) rules.

"We had a lot more rules for the (voluntary) workouts than we usually have and it was more organized and we got a lot done," he said. "We will be out here on Aug. 3 getting ready for the season."

Mildred, Rice, Blooming Grove, Kerens, Frost and Dawson will all begin official football practice on Aug. 3 and their 10-game schedules will remain intact.

"We will start our season earlier (than Corsicana) and KAND radio will broadcast our first three games." Dalton said. "I thought that was pretty cool. The stadium will be at 50 percent capacity so this will give the grandmas and grandpas and others a chance to hear our games on the radio."

The UIL heard many ideas for altering the football season, including switching fall sports with spring sports (baseball and softball and track & field would have been played in the fall), but worked hard to find a solution to save traditional high school football and the fall sports, and released it's plan with safety and flexibility in mind.

“Our goal in releasing this plan is to provide a path forward for Texas students and schools,” UIL Executive Director Dr. Charles Breithaupt said in a statement. “While understanding situations change and there will likely be interruptions that will require flexibility and patience, we are hopeful this plan allows students to participate in the education-based activities they love in a way that prioritizes safety and mitigates risk of COVID-19 spread.”

Here's a look at some key dates

Playoffs for 5A and 6A football were originally slated for Thursday, Nov. 12, but will now begin Thursday, Dec. 3. The football state championships will take place in January. A date has yet to be decided. The state title games were originally scheduled for Dec. 16-19.

The 5A and 6A volleyball state championships will take place on Dec. 11-12. 

Class 5A and 6A tennis and cross country competitions may also begin Sept. 7. Tennis championships will play out Nov. 11-12, while the cross country state meet will take place Dec. 5.

Classes 1A-4A will resume fall activities as normal, with practices beginning Monday, Aug. 3. Volleyball games will begin Aug. 10, with football games starting Aug. 27. State championships for volleyball and football will again take place in November and December, respectively.

Class 1A-4A tennis and cross country will start competition on Aug. 17. State tennis and cross country championships for these classes will occur in conjunction with Classes 5A and 6A.

High school marching bands across all classifications may begin activities Sept. 7. State championships will take place in December, but a date has not been decided yet.

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