High school football kicks off amid COVID-19 pandemic

Coronavirus

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – It’s the first night of Friday night football for schools across Hillsborough County amid the COVID-19 pandemic. How have things changed? 8 On Your Side spoke with the Hillsborough County Schools Superintendent, parents & players.

On Friday night, the band was roaring in the stands and fans cheering on the players who overwhelmingly seemed happy to be back.

“I’m just really happy to be back out here,” said Senior Zack Antoniou. But he said football is different this year. “This whole season has been so different, just the way we practice, everything is different. I have a mask on the field which is different.”

Zack’s dad, Anthony, was also on the field Friday night to celebrate his son’s Senior Night. He said he’s impressed with the COVID-19 precautions.

“The spacing in the stands, to just organizing social distancing and the whole ticket thing, it’s crazy,” Antoniou said.

Hillsborough County Schools Superintendent Addison Davis said all schools in the county are following the same game plan.

“Not using the same towels, making certain we’re wearing masks when not participating and having individual water bottles for our athletes while they’re interacting,” Davis said.

8 On Your Side saw social distancing tape at the ticket line, concession stand, and in the spectators stands to keep everyone six-feet-apart.

“That’s why we have the athletic plan, it defines how we have an intake of our spectators, every participant has four individuals they’re allowed to come with, they sit in their pods,” Superintendent Davis said.

But 8 On Your Side also saw a firsthand significant grouping of fans in the stands. We asked Superintendent Davis if he was concerned with what we were seeing.

“I always say we got room to get better, so we will get better every single week,” Davis said.

There are seven more games on the roster for Plant High, their next game is Thursday.

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