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Early reviews mixed on new high school sports calendar

Local officials say they understand the rationale behind the decision, but concerns remain about condensing schedules and the possibility of the high school football season stretching into December.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Saturday was a typical rainy May afternoon in Western New York.

In Lockport, the high school boys lacrosse team hosted Williamsville South. The playing conditions they were less than ideal, but that's nothing new.

Dealing with spotty weather has always been an issue for spring high school sports, especially during the early part of their seasons. Finding outdoor practice time and battling sloppy become almost as much a part of the game as cross-crease slides and bar down snipes.

“The weather’s tough, especially with the snow," Williamsville South coach Luke Falzone said.

His counterpart agreed. “It makes things incredibly difficult dealing with the weather," Lockport coach Scott Reddinger said, "but that’s also a part of spring sports. It’s also a good life lesson for the kids.”

Lessons aside, NYSPHSAA passed a measure to amend the structure of all 32 high school sport seasons starting the school year after next, in 2020-21. For most sports like boys lacrosse, it means removing a week from the front of their current schedule.

“The extra week, that’s going to give those of us who are still on grass the opportunity to allow our fields one more week and to let our guys catch up," Reddinger said. "That being said, it just condenses our season down.”

Added Falzone: “Losing that week as far as when you get into April and May you’re going to have to be playing maybe three and four times a week."

The one sport whose schedule won’t condense down is football, which will instead see its season start time slide back one week. That means starting later, but more importantly ending later.

“What hurts us as a football committee, we’ve been trying to get an extra week," Section 6 Football Chairman Ken Stoldt said, "to get an extra game to get on par with the rest of the country, because right now we play less regular season games then most states in our country do.

"By moving our game back, which is normally on Thanksgiving weekend, now in most years that’s going to fall into December. For them to give us an extra week and make us play that championship then, maybe the second week in December, that’s probably not going to happen.”

Altering the schedule for high school football in New York State is especially difficult, as strict limitations are placed on the amount of time players can be on the field. The state mandates at least four days between games and teams are not permitted to take the field more than six consecutive days.

Similar rules do not restrict other high school sports in a similar fashion. Section 6 voted against the changes, which passed by a narrow 12-10 vote.

With time still before the new schedule is implemented, Stoldt is hoping additional tweaks are still a possibility but says they'll work with whatever they're given.


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