To say the upcoming football season will be different is an understatement.
With the pandemic working its way through all facets of life football is not immune and this year the effects have already been seen.
From limited summer practices to no scrimmages to altered schedules, it will be interesting to see how football unfolds in the 2020 season.
Here is what to look for:
1. Early games are going to be important.
With a six-game schedule teams are going to be facing some interesting scenarios and have a lot to deal with. Some conferences are playing for titles while others are going to forgo a a championships More importantly coaches, especially at small schools, are going to have to evaluate on the fly on personnel. This will benefit teams with experience but all coaches will have to find out what they have early. Also they are going to have to make adjustments against opponents because of no scrimmages or scouting.
2. How does the pandemic affect the season?
Each school is going to take necessary precautions to keep their players safe from the pandemic. It will be interesting how social distancing is going to work along with coaches and fans. Another major factor will be injuries. Without much real game play situations coaches will have to worry about injuries to player who are hitting opponents for the first time.
3. Since there is no WBL or MAC titles how are these teams approaching the season.
Pride and the push to the playoffs will play important roles in how the schools in these league face off during the stunted regular season. You are going to have your traditional rivalries such as Wapakoneta against St. Marys and Bath against Elida but all coaches agree that they want to be play their best football come week seven when the postseason starts.
4. Who has the toughest first six games in the WBL?
All coaches say they do and the WBL did a good job of trying to find balance but a quick look at the schedule shows Bath will face some tough tests. The Wildcats open with St. Marys followed by a trip to Kenton and a trip to Elida. The last three regular season games include a home game against Ottawa-Glandorf, a trip to Celina and ending with a home game against Van Wert. Celina will have its hands full with games against Wapakoneta, Kenton and St. Marys.
5. The NWC has the most interesting format in crowning a league title with the tournament schedule so who looks good in the conference.
The NWC is loaded with a lot of contenders for the title and give them credit for coming up with an interesting format to decide the league crown. From top to bottom each team has a chance to make waves in the bracket and all it takes is one bad night to be ousted. Columbus Grove, Spencerville and Allen East come in as the front runners but other teams but nothing is certain in the year of uncertainty.
6. What can we expect from the NWCC
With the limited schedule the NWCC got a jump on expansion with the addition of Ridgedale and Crestline a year early. This allowed the conference to break into two divisions and decide two NWCC title that gives these squads something to play for as they enter the postseason. Despite losing all-state performer Chazz Jackson, Perry returns a wealth of talent and should be a contender for a title in its division while Hardin Northern and Waynesfield-Goshen look to battle for a conference in the other division. In what might be one of the more interesting first game match-ups, those Hardin Northern and Waynesfield-Goshen square off each other. The two teams ended last year that put Hardin Northern won 21-14 and sent the Polar Bears to the playoffs and kept the Tigers out.
7. Can Alphonso Townsend turn the Spartans around?
If there is one thing Townsend has already done is brought his own brand of enthusiasm to the program that won three games last year. The former Spartan standout has gotten more numbers out for this season and inherits some talent. However, he will definitely be tested in the Three Rivers Athletic only six-game schedule and Lima Senior will play powerhouse Toledo Central Catholic to open the year.
8. How will LCC do in the BVC?
The Thunderbirds return its explosive backfield in Rossy Moore, Shawn Thomas and Dylan Wilson. The trio combined for more than 3,000 yards on the ground and 45 touchdowns. Partnered with Elida transfer Evan Unruh at quarterback and three returning linemen and LCC looks good for another big year. Their BVC schedule will test the Thunderbirds as they are playing the top teams in the league including Leipsic, Licking Valley, Liberty-Benton and Arlington.
9. What is the key to making a playoff run this year?
The teams that have depth and the teams that stay healthiest will be the teams that succeed this year. Watch for teams with experience as well also do well. With not preparation off season time, those squads that can come together the best by the time the playoffs begin will be the team that will make a big playoff run.
10. Can we finish the season?