Fans pack stands for 1st game of high school football season; NCHSAA makes COVID-19 recommendations

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RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — The first week of the high school football season at Cardinal Gibbons High School looked different than last season.

Cardinal Gibbons took on Chambers High School Friday night. The Chambers Cougars won the state 4AA title last season.

“Yeah, we are super excited. I’m just happy that we are back to doing tailgating and it seems like things are getting back to normal,” said Erica Raphael.

Raphael’s son plays for Cardinal Gibbons.

There was a big crowd of families, friends, and community members that showed up for the tailgating and the game.

“We missed out on so much last year and we are so excited to be back here and just enjoy the community and see the kids and see their faces,” said Kelly Loucks.

While there was a lot of excitement, it was clear that there is still a COVID-19 pandemic.

There were signs in front of the stadium reminding people to buy tickets online. CBS 17 also spotted some fans wearing masks.

However, the stands were full.

The game itself ended up being delayed for about two hours because of weather. The game, which was stopped with less than 2 minutes before halftime, was set to restart around 11:20 p.m.

Coming into the season, the North Carolina High School Athletic Association decided not to put out detailed COVID-19 protocols.

Instead, for instance, the association is recommending things like players and coaches practice social distancing while sitting on the bench. Also, they are asking coaches and officials to avoid close, face-to-face communication.

The association is giving schools the option to enforce more restrictive policies.

However, with a long season ahead, so much could change — from the governor’s executive orders to the season itself. For now, parents are just happy about the fact that there is a fall season.

“To have all this again is really exciting,” said Loucks.

CBS 17 reached out to school districts to see if any games were canceled due to COVID-19.

One game that involved a Cumberland County school was postponed.

“The Terry Sanford High School vs. Glenn High School (Winston-Salem) has been postponed. Details regarding the number of players/coaches infected cannot be confirmed at this time,” said David Culbreth, Cumberland County Schools director of student activities.

For more information, click here to read the 2021-2022 NCHSAA Sports Guidelines for Best Practices

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