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Lights will be turned on once again at Monterey Stadium this spring, but not for a track and field meet—at least not at the start. The alternate fall season for football begins in two weeks. The field is not expected to be ready for football at the start, but there will be games played there later.

The alternate fall football season is just over a week away.

Here are a few musings from me as John Barry steps away from his weekly column until the season begins ...

On schedule

I wondered if the alternate fall seasons would ever really take place, but here we are, and so far so good for the sports that have started competition and those currently still practicing.

There have been far more outdoors practices than I anticipated just weeks ago when we had a couple feet of snow piled up.

On Friday and Saturday this week, many teams have scheduled scrimmages, just like they would in a regular fall season. Craig is hosting Beloit Memorial at Craig High in what coach Adam Bunderson described as more of a joint practice than a scrimmage. Parker is slated to scrimmage up at Middleton on Saturday.

For all sports during this time, including now football, keeping track of the schedules means constantly refreshing conference websites.

Where are they playing?

The same can be said when trying to keep track of where games are being played, including next week’s openers.

As of Tuesday, Craig is still slated to play at DeForest on Friday night. And Parker’s game is listed at home Friday at Monterey Stadium against Beaver Dam.

But it sounds as though Monterey Stadium is out of the question for Week 1 for Parker. If what we’re hearing becomes official, one of these times that I hit refresh, the Parker/Beaver Dam game will be reslated for Saturday at UW-Whitewater.

One of the other potential options that just about every local school seems to be looking at is playing on the turf at Walworth Big Foot.

The Chiefs’ new facility is paying off, with them scheduled to host five of their six games this season. But they won’t be the only ones calling their turf home.

“Milton is playing a game here, Brodhead is playing one or two, as well,” Big Foot coach Mike Welden told Adams Publishing Group’s Josh Flickinger. “Clinton is playing an afternoon game one time while we play the night game, and we are hosting several JV level games, as well.

“There just aren’t many turf fields in southern Wisconsin, and the ones that are there are just as booked as we are.”

COVID concerns

While numbers continue trending in a good direction, the pandemic is hardly over.

And COVID-19 concerns still loom.

A positive test within the Craig football program led to concerns about a potential pause late last week, but the Cougars have continued practice this week.

Scott Garner, Assistant Superintendent with the School District of Janesville, outlined some of the protocols that go along with outdoors sports during the alternate fall season and heading toward the spring season:

“Due to the unique nature of spring sports—being outside and the strict timelines—WIAA (with support of the NFHS) has adjusted their protocols for quarantining for close contact and/or positive cases,” Garner said. “According to their recommendations, only those deemed close contacts to a positive case through contact tracing must quarantine. This supersedes previous protocols of the whole team being quarantined.

“Recently, Craig varsity football team experienced a positive case. As a result of these new protocols, the team is not required to quarantine. This same rule will apply to all spring sports.”

Previewing the season

Given the circumstances, including that some of our Gazette coverage area teams were able to play during the fall season, The Gazette will not have a high school football preview section this year for the first time in what feels like forever.

We do have 11 teams preparing to play during the alternate fall season, and we’ve got plans in place to preview them all next week leading up to Week 1 kickoff.

Obviously we’ll need to run more than one per day to get them all in.

You can consider that your football two-a-day.

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