HUNTSVILLE — In what has been a topsy-turvy week for local high school football, it’s not yet written in stone that there won’t be any games played locally this week.
While it’s a long shot, there’s still a chance that Scott High and Austin-East could play.
The Highlanders and Roadrunners were originally scheduled to face off on Friday at Highlander Stadium. However, the Knox County School System announced Saturday that Austin-East is being switched to virtual learning through Sept. 12, along with Knox Central.
Under state guidelines, schools that are on a remote schedule must suspend all in-person extra-curricular activities.
Knox County leaders, including Mayor Glenn Jacobs, school superintendent Bob Thomas and the entire Board of Education, penned a letter to Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee on Tuesday, urging him to reconsider the extra-curricular activity ban.
“Unfortunately, we had to move two of our high schools, Austin-East Magnet High School and Central High School, to virtual learning beginning today,” the letter stated. “While we are appreciative the state is allowing the move to temporary remote instruction, we are concerned that prohibiting all extra-curricular activities further compounds the negative impacts on our students.
“Participation in extra-curricular activities is optional, healthy, and keeps our students off the street and involved in school,” the letter continued.
The letter requested a swift response from Lee, given the “time sensitive nature” of the request.
Austin-East has been in contact with Scott High, according to Highlander athletics director Eric Henry. Should the governor sign off on Knox County’s request, A-E would plan to play its game in Huntsville this weekend, as originally scheduled.
However, the governor’s approval of Knox County’s request seems like a long shot, since state Republicans have been at war with the state’s metropolitan school districts over a reluctance to return to in-person learning.
It’s also unclear how much time Lee would have to sign the letter for the game to take place, since Scott High has ostensibly moved on to preparation for Knox Carter next week. Austin-East is currently not practicing, due to the move to virtual learning.
If Lee were to amend the rules, the game would have to be moved to Saturday, due to a shortage of football officials for Friday night games.