SWLA schools prepare for football season with COVID, Hurricane Laura setbacks

SWLA schools prepare for football season with COVID, Hurricane Laura setbacks

Southwest Louisiana (KPLC) - First, it was COVID-19, and then came the aftermath of Hurricane Laura. Yet still, high school football will happen this fall.

“In the beginning, we were hoping we could come back and now it’s when we are going to come back,” admitted St. Louis football coach Chad Lavergne.

The LHSAA gave coaches and players that “when” earlier this afternoon. Scrimmages can happen at the end of the month with the regular season coming a week earlier than anticipated.

“We actually moved [the season start date] up to start on the first week of October," said LHSAA Executive Director Eddie Bonine. "We have an eight-game schedule and we will finish the last week in December.”

But where does that leave our local teams from Calcasieu, Cameron and Beauregard parishes? Players and coaches are having to rebuild their homes and schools while preparing for the season.

Tuesday, Calcasieu Parish schools decided on a full fall schedule although teams can’t practice until September 21. Superintendent Karl Bruchhaus told KPLC they may re-considered the practice start date following the LHSAA’s change-of-date.

Private schools in Lake Charles don’t follow the same guidelines which is why St. Louis Catholic took the practice field over in Welsh Wednesday for the first time since Laura’s landfall.

“It’s voluntary, but we had some kids drive from Houston today to come to this practice. That’s how much we are starving for some routine," said Lavergne. "We also understand that some kids can’t make it. This is just a transition time.”

That transition time could be important for teams like LCCP. Athletics Director Freddie Harrison said his Blazers are all-go for the season in hopes to give his players an outlet during this time.

“That’s why we are trying to put some plans and precautions in place to try and give people a sense of encouragement to come back to Lake Charles when we do get power. Now is the time to plan for when that electricity comes back on and now is the time to plan how we are going to have a season.”

Coaches believe the routine and structure is crucial for the players to get back to normal.

“We have 11 seniors on this football team. They love football and they care about football at Welsh High School," said football coach Cody Gueringer. "Ultimately them getting back to this and having some sense of normalcy is a big deal for them.”

Many schools in Southwest Louisiana will be good to go this fall, but Bonine said LHSAA is understanding to those not able to compete this season.

“We’re going to get the schedules in place and we are going to get everything we need in place and as the schools participate they can and if not, it will not be held against them and we will just pick up and move forward as they do.”

Copyright 2020 KPLC. All rights reserved.