As the coronavirus continues to alter plans for Catholic schools, athletic directors are working together to confirm schedules, venues and pandemic mandates.
It’s much easier said than done.
After originally deciding that all fall sports would be postponed at minimum through the remainder of the calendar year, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia recently changed its ruling and left it up to each school to decide its best course of action.
That journey became a bit less cloudy Oct. 1.
The Philadelphia Catholic League (PCL) supplied significant information what the next two months should look like, albeit with an incomplete schedule.
There will be no Catholic League championships in any sport. Most schools are aiming to make the PIAA state playoffs per their class distinction (6A, 4A, 3A, 2A and 1A; no school is listed as a 5A). Others will play a Catholic League schedule, but their season will end after their last regular-season game.
“I’m happy we are playing for the kids’ sake,” said Roman Catholic soccer coach Ray DeStephanis. “To have some type of Catholic League soccer versus not having one for the entire year is beneficial for kids.
“This is helpful for seniors going to college. Younger players will have a chance to show the varsity coaches what they can do. At the end of the day, it’s better than nothing.”
Here is a breakdown of the new landscape that hopefully won’t ever need to be repeated.
- Father Judge will play football, soccer and golf in the spring, but in the fall they will join 13 schools that will compete to reach the boys’ cross country PIAA playoffs.
- West Catholic will play football in the spring and a Catholic League schedule in girls’ volleyball in the fall.
- Football will consist of Archbishop Wood, La Salle, Roman and St. Joseph’s Prep in 6A; Archbishop Ryan, Bonner-Prendergast and Cardinal O’Hara in 4A; Archbishop Carroll, Lansdale Catholic, Neumann-Goretti in 3A; and Bishop McDevitt and Conwell-Egan in 2A.
- In boys’ soccer, La Salle, Roman and the Prep will compete in 4A; Archbishop Ryan and Archbishop Wood in 3A; Archbishop Carroll, Conwell-Egan, Devon Prep and Lansdale Catholic in 2A. Bonner-Prendergast, Cardinal O’Hara and Bishop McDevitt will play in the PCL.
- In girls’ soccer, Archbishop Carroll (4A), Archbishop Ryan (3A), Cardinal O’Hara (3A), Archbishop Wood (2A), Lansdale Catholic (2A) and Conwell-Egan (1A) will compete in the PIAA; Bonner-Prendergast will play a PCL schedule.
- In girls’ volleyball, 4A Archbishop Carroll and 3A Archbishop Wood, Cardinal O’Hara, Lansdale Catholic and St. Hubert’s will play in the PIAA. Archbishop Ryan, Bonner-Prendergast, John W. Hallahan, Little Flower, Conwell-Egan, Neumann-Goretti, West Catholic and Bishop McDevitt will play in the PCL.
- In PIAA field hockey, Archbishop Carroll joins Bonner-Prendergast and Cardinal O’Hara in 2A while Archbishop Wood and Lansdale Catholic will play in 1A; Archbishop Ryan, Bishop McDevitt and Conwell-Egan will play in the PCL.
- In girls’ tennis, PIAA schools include 3A Cardinal O’Hara and four 2A’s (Archbishop Ryan, Archbishop Wood, Lansdale Catholic, and Little Flower). St. Hubert’s, Archbishop Carroll, and Bonner-Prendergast will play in the PCL.
- Boys’ and girls’ cross country will all play a PIAA schedule.
- For numerous schools, spring athletics will take place in football (Father Judge and West Catholic); boys’ soccer (Judge and Neumann-Goretti); girls’ soccer Bishop McDevitt, John W. Hallahan, Little Flower, Neumann-Goretti and St. Hubert’s); field hockey (Little Flower and St. Hubert’s); and golf (Archbishop Carroll, Archbishop Ryan, Archbishop Wood, Bonner-Prendergast, Cardinal O’Hara, Conwell-Egan, Father Judge, Lansdale Catholic, Roman Catholic, John W. Hallahan, Little Flower and St. Hubert’s).
- Joseph’s Prep, La Salle, and Devon Prep have already been playing golf in the fall and are not scheduled to compete in the spring.
- As for junior varsity and/or freshman sports, it is up to the individual schools to determine if they will field a team and then create a schedule.
Father Judge junior linebacker Mike Conway was asked to assess playing football in the spring instead of the traditional fall.
“A few advantages that we have for playing in the spring are working out, getting physically prepared, and having the incoming freshmen and sophomores get better with the playbook and learn more about our system,” said Conway. “For us to play in a couple of weeks, we wouldn’t be as prepared, but we would definitely get there.
“It’s exciting to compete against other teams, but I liked playing big-name teams like the Prep. It helps me and my teammates grow as players, because they are very good.”
Contact John Knebels at Jknebels@gmail.com or on Twitter @johnknebels.
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