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High school football finally starts Friday, but some teams will have to wait a bit longer following cancellations

East Islip players at practice.

East Islip players at practice. Credit: Reece T. Williams

The start of the high school football season was moved from the fall of 2020 to March 2021. The season opens Friday night across Long Island. It’s football games in March for the first time in area history.

Some teams, however, are going to have to wait a little bit longer to hit the gridiron as the COVID pandemic continues to impact schedules.

Section VIII, the governing body of Nassau’s interscholastic sports, announced the cancellation of five games this weekend.

"We have districts in Nassau County that have announced they will not play teams that don’t test weekly for the COVID," said Pat Pizzarelli, the executive director of Section VIII. "Those games will be counted as forfeits when a district holds another district to a higher testing standard than what is required by the Nassau Department of Health. We also have a few teams in quarantine . . . those games will be considered non-contests, not forfeits."

Section VIII football coordinator Matt McLees said there’s a difference between quarantining and a school that refuses to play another that won’t test.

"But teams that cannot play due to an opponent’s positive test are allowed to reschedule the game against an available opponent that weekend," McLees said.

"The rescheduled game will be considered non-league and have no impact on the standings and power points. A forfeit will count as a loss . . . and have an effect on the power points."

According to Pizzarelli, Herricks, Westbury, Seaford and Plainview-Old Bethpage JFK will not play against districts that don’t test in all sports.

Four of the five football games affected by COVID this weekend came in Conference IV: Wantagh at Locust Valley, East Rockaway at Clarke, Seaford at North Shore and West Hempstead at Friends Academy.

Wantagh, East Rockaway, Seaford and Friends Academy are quarantined; those games are non-contests.

Mineola at Valley Stream North was canceled as Mineola is in quarantine.

Two games were added Saturday as non-league contests: Locust Valley at Clarke and West Hempstead at North Shore.

According to Tom Combs, the executive director of Section XI, which governs all of Suffolk’s sports, the Suffolk schedule is intact for this weekend.

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