Safety first: Sports adjust to COVID protocols

Flagler Palm Coast and Matanzas must decide by Sept. 18 whether they'll opt out of state playoff tournaments.

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  • | 2:22 p.m. September 4, 2020
FPC Volleyball Coach Trent Schake. File photo
FPC Volleyball Coach Trent Schake. File photo
  • Palm Coast Observer
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by: Brent Woronoff

Flagler Palm Coast volleyball coach Trent Schake plans to begin tryouts on Labor Day. What those tryouts would look like he still wasn’t sure on Sept. 2.

If Flagler Schools moves ahead with its plan to open the fall sports season on Saturday, Sept. 5, with the Phase 3 go-ahead to conduct full practices, Schake’s tryouts can include all aspects of volleyball.

If players and coaches have learned anything since conditioning programs were reinstated on June 22, COVID-19 protocols are fluid.

“It’s a weird situation,” FPC athletic director Steve DeAugustino said. “You plan, knowing very well the situation can change. I’m not printing a whole lot of schedules right now.”

FPC and Matanzas were originally scheduled to meet on the football field in the third week of the season. The Potato Bowl is now the season opener with FPC hosting Matanzas on Sept. 18 at 7 p.m.

The football season will actually begin on Sept. 17 with a JV game. Matanzas will host FPC at 6 p.m.

DeAugustino was not sure how many fans will be allowed to watch the Potato Bowl. He expected attendance to be limited to less than 50% capacity. The game will be livestreamed.

Matanzas has scheduled eight football games in this delayed season. FPC has seven games on its football schedule. Head coach Travis Roland is looking to fill the Bulldogs’ open date on Oct. 23.

Sept. 18 will mark the debut of first-year Matanzas football coach Matt Forrest. The Pirates have two weeks to learn Forrest’s offensive and defensive schemes without the benefit of spring practice.

“This is not the way I envisioned it when I took the job in December,” he said. "But everybody is in the same boat to some degree. When we got the footballs out (when teams were allowed to go to Phase 2), we started installing the offense and defense. At our first organized practice I’m confident we’ll be able to go out and execute our base offense.”

Sept. 18 will also be the date fall sports teams must opt in or out of the state playoffs.

“Our coaches are weighing the pros and cons right now,” Matanzas athletic director Zach Rigney said.

If teams decide not to compete in the playoffs, they can continue to schedule regular-season games through their sport’s state title game.

Schake has scheduled Matanzas for a home volleyball match on Oct. 29, which is the week of the regional semifinals. If the Bulldogs are able to advance that far, they would have to cancel that Matanzas match, Schake said.

When Phase 3 begins athletes will continue to have their temperatures recorded and undergo screening each day. They will continue to wear masks when not taking part in activities. And all equipment will be sanitized every day.

“I’m really proud of the kids. They’re following the directions issued from the (Flagler) health department,” Rigney said.

“I really think the coaches are doing a good job with this,” DeAugustino said. “They have safety as their No. 1 concern, not who’s going to win the first game.”



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