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Phil Perry/Coal Valley News

BOONE COUNTY – All three Boone County high schools will kick-off their 2020 football seasons on Sept. 4 with far more than a dash of optimism and a sprinkle of hope.

The Class A Van Bulldogs will play host to Liberty (Raleigh) at Herschel Jarrell Field, the Class A Sherman Tide will enjoy a home opener as they welcome Tug Valley to Zontini field and the Scott Skyhawks will travel to Class AA Cardinal Conference foe Wayne.

While the squads cumulatively had just 5 victories between them in 2019, an optimistic culture has found its way on the practice field county-wide.

During early practices and interviews for HD Media’s annual football special section which can be found in the Sept. 2 edition of the Coal Valley News, Sherman Coach Michael Showalter talked about the buzz and how the presence of COVID-19 hasn’t dampened the enthusiasm of his players.

“These kids county-wide and state-wide have been through a lot,” he said. “You want this season to be successful for your seniors like any other year but this year is different and the kids have been really good about getting their work in on their own and they are ready to play ball. I think the in-county games are great for the community and I’m really happy we were able to add Scott to our schedule.”

Sherman and Scott will renew their rivalry on Sept. 18 at Sherman and the Tide will welcome Van to Zontini Field on Oct. 16 to defend the spade in the annual “Showdown for the Shovel.”

All three teams saw live scrimmage action last week as Scott played host to Tug Valley, Van welcomed Tolsia and Sherman traveled to Clay County on Saturday.

The Secondary School Activities Commission has released its guidelines for spectators at extracurricular activities in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic, and they’re being limited to immediate family members.

Via a story from HD Media sportswriter Rick Ryan last week – for football, soccer, volleyball and cheerleading the protocols follow the state’s color-coded rating system in effect for each county.

If the home team’s status is in the green category (safest), attendance is limited to immediate household family members of players and coaches. If the county is in yellow, only parents of athletes and coaches’ spouses are permitted to attend. In both cases, face coverings are required if social distancing can’t be maintained.

Schools in the orange and red (unsafest) categories cannot play games, though schools in orange counties are still permitted to practice. SSAC executive director Bernie Dolan said attendance guidelines will be revisited after the second week of games.

As of Aug. 31, Boone County boasts a “yellow” status.

Look for season previews for soccer and volleyball in the Sept. 2 edition of the CVN.

Reporter Phil Perry can be reached at pperry@hdmediallc.com or at 304-307-2401.