LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- High school football teams are ready to tackle the challenges of playing the game amid a pandemic as teams across the Bluegrass begin the season.
Stadiums and fields around the state have precautions in place to keep players, coaches and fans safe during play. Most schools are enforcing mask-wearing and social distancing, as well as limiting the amount of fans able to attend the game.
"There's a lot of things that happen behind the scenes just to be able to play one football game," St. Xavier High School Athletic Director Denny Williams said.
Williams has been key in preparing St. X's stadium for a "COVID kickoff" and stressed how important it is to make sure everyone is safe.
St. X's Broher Thomas More Page Stadium seats about 6,000 home fans and another 1,000 on the visiting bleachers, but on Friday, the entire stadium was limited to around 1,000. There will be no concessions, and every two rows of seating is blocked off with caution tape.
"The rows that have the caution tape are closed," Williams said. "The reserved seats, the chair-back seats, any caution tape that's over those can't be sat in."
Tickets for the game are also essential in St. X's protocol. All ticket sales were done online to limit crowd size and have a database of information for contact tracing if there's an outbreak.
"All that information is required in order to purchase them," Williams said. "So we're able to use that database with our ticketing system to gain all that information."
Bullitt Central High School is also headed back to the field, and much of the district's game plan resembles St. X's. However, the Cougars are on the road instead of at home, like the Tigers.
Each player participated in a screening before loading the bus to head to their away game just up the road at North Bullitt High School. All teams in the KHSAA have to do this for away games to meet the criteria that enables them to play through this pandemic.
Bullitt County Schools are also limiting seating at games. Each school is allotting 300 tickets total for the games, allowing the home team 200 tickets and the away team 100. All sales are also conducted online.
"We don't have to worry about (tickets) at the gate," Bullitt Central Athletic Director Jason Wells said. "It's a simple validation, go through the COVID checks and on into the gate."
Masks and social distancing will also be required of all attendees there, creating a kickoff to the season like never before.
There is a question still looming over high school sports as it relates to COVID, and that's how long can the two co-exist?
"Excited that we're getting the opportunity to start more than anything but then that quiet nervousness of how long is this going to last," Wells said.
High schools and their administration say they're working diligently to make sure the ball gets kicked off safely each and every week.
"It's been a lot the last couple weeks, especially the last month," Williams said. "But if we get to play one game, it's all worth it."
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