By Steve Gunn

The high school football season was not cancelled on Wednesday! That means our local teams remain on track to play this fall!

That also means the annual Local Sports Journal football preview section will be published on schedule, and you can help get LSJ back on its feet by ordering a mail-delivered copy for a minimum donation of $5! Just click on the above link to order.

The Michigan High School Athletic Association sent out a much-anticipated press release on Wednesday, following a crucial meeting of its representative council. Many expected the council to cancel the upcoming prep football season, due to COVID-19.

2020 LSJ football preview cover, featuring Mona Shores QB Brady Rose. CLICK ON PHOTO TO ORDER.

That’s not what happened. Instead the MHSAA decided to delay the start of full-equipment practices until Aug. 17, a week later than scheduled. That could mean that the first games will be delayed by several weeks (pure speculation on my part), but to the hundreds of local players who have been working out for weeks in hopes of having some type of season, I doubt that would matter very much at all.

I don’t think it would matter to the state champion Mona Shores Sailors, who just want to play and maintain their momentum from last season. 

I was at the team’s conditioning session on Tuesday, to interview senior quarterback Brady Rose, the playoff hero who will be featured on the cover of this year’s football preview section. The Sailors were loud, excited and seemed ready to roll. We are thrilled to know they may get the chance to defend their title this fall!

We take great pride in publishing our full-color football preview section every August. In fact we have already started contacting coaches, writing stories and taking photos of the 23 area teams we cover, despite the uncertainty. We were willing to risk a little time and effort to get started, to make sure we could publish on time if the MHSAA decided it’s safe to practice and play.

Like most businesses, LSJ took a serious financial hit during the COVID shutdown. The loss of the last few weeks of the high school basketball tournaments in March, then the cancellation of spring and summer sports, meant we could not publish our monthly magazine or sell advertising.

That’s why, this year, we are using our football preview section as a fundraiser. Beginning today, we will begin taking online orders for copies of the preview section, which will be delivered to you by mail before the first games. The revenue we gain from the $5 minimum donation (larger donations are also encouraged and very welcome!) will allow us to continue to cover the local athletes who work so hard to represent their schools and communities.

Of course there is a possibility that the situation could change over the next few weeks, and the football season could be pushed back until later in the school year. Even before Wednesday’s announcement, the MHSAA had discussed a contingency plan to have football in the spring, if it cannot be played during the traditional fall season.

There is also the chance that some individual schools will opt not to play this fall, for their own safety reasons.

If there is not a fall season, we will publish our football preview at the appropriate time, and everyone who ordered one will receive it in the mail before the season kicks off. In the meantime, we are simply excited to know that our teams will be able to keep practicing, in preparation for a regular fall season.

Please join us in saying a little prayer that the threat of COVID-19 leaves our communities soon, life can get back to normal, and all of our student-athletes can soon hit the fields and courts to play the games they love.