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N.J. Football Coaches Association Commissioner John Jacob, who had been the longtime offensive coordinator at Wayne Hills and a big part of their playoff championship teams, said that it has been reported to the NJFCA that 'Week Zero' (Aug. 27-29) is now out as far as being start of 2020 season. (photos from Wayne Hills football and JR Parachini)

Week Zero Is Out As Far As 2020 Goes
As Football Season Continues To Evolve

By Steve Tober

There will be no Week Zero in the upcoming New Jersey high school football season as any 2020 scholastic gridiron campaign will not be able to start any earlier than Labor Day weekend (Sept. 3-6).

“We had a discussion on the topic during our leagues and conferences meeting with the NJSIAA and it was reported to us that there would be no week zero,” said John Jacob, the commissioner of the N.J. Football Coaches Association (NJFCA). “(Chief Operating Officer) Colleen Maguire and all the people at the NJSIAA are trying to be flexible while working with all the factors revolving around COVID-19 and the different phases involved for us to get toward the start of the season which at this point it would appear that week 1 is still in tact until we are told otherwise.”

Week 1 on the 2020 calendar would be Labor Day weekend.

Of course, nothing is set as far as the actual status of any 2020 New Jersey high school football season although Jacob remains optimistic.

“I am confident that we can deliver a season, but we just have to be flexible while working with the NJSIAA and all the other powers that be,” said Jacob. “Coaches are excited to be able to get together with their players starting July 13 for the Phase 1 limited to conditioning and my guess would be that Phase 2 would then allow some weight training to be allowed outdoors, but that is not part of Phase 1.”  

Jacob, who has most recently been the offensive coordinator at Wayne Hills, doesn’t pretend to be a medical expert and he’s not about to predict exactly what will come to fruition or not as far as a 2020 fall high school football season is concerned.

“There are just too many unanswered questions right now to know exactly what the season will look like, but I remain optimistic,” he added. “I am certainly not a medical expert so it’s difficult to determine right now what exactly is going to occur next, but we will certainly rely on the medical protocol from the Department of Health and what the NJSIAA says is the next step.”

However, if the presence of COVID-19 virus combined with the decisions of the powers-that-be including Gov. Phil Murphy and The Department of Education decide to postpone the fall gridiron campaign, what might an alternative be?

There does not appear to be any groundswell in New Jersey to consider a spring football season in 2021 which would be too much to deal with as far as logistics and planning for at this point.

“I personally wouldn’t be in favor of hurting the spring sports programs which have endured a lot already,” Jacob had said previously. “However, there could be a call for creativity at some point.”

One group that is immensely important to any football season are the officials, who can range in age from their early 20s to 70s.

“In addition to the medical protocol for the players and coaches that we receive from our Department of Health, there are also the officials to be taken into account,” Jacob said in a prior interview. “They are a vulnerable population and have to be considered as well among a large number of variables.”

Also, among the unknowns is whether or not a second wave of the coronavirus will return with a vengeance in October or November, which if it did could come either in the middle or final third of any fall football season.

“There are many more questions than answers at this point,” said Jacob. “That’s what we know for sure right now.

“Hopefully, we’ll have more answers that continue to be positive over these next several weeks because our state and our country went through some very tough times this past spring, that’s for sure!”  

NOTES- Jacob, who played under coach John Wagner at Roselle Park, has spent the last seven seasons as the offensive coordinator on head man Wayne Demikoff’s staff at Wayne Hills. He had previously been the head coach at West Orange for 10 seasons and also spent two seasons on Jim Benedict’s staff at Westfield as a young coach…Randy Daniel of Orange High School is president of the NJFCA. Rich Hansen, the athletic director and head coach at St. Peter’s Prep, is president of the North Jersey Super Football Conference…One Essex County coach who would not be against spring football is Montclair’s John Fiore who has noted that recruiting is based off the scholastic season unlike other sports, such as basketball, which is centered around AAU ball as a college coach’s focal point, and baseball and lacrosse where recruiters frequently see their targeted kids through showcases and camps around the country.              

Follow Steve Tober on Twitter @Chattermeister      

John Jacob spent a decade as the head football coach at West Orange before moving on to become the OC on Chris Olsen and Wayne Demikoff's staffs at Wayne Hills. He also is very busy as commissioner of N.J. Football Coaches Association. (Sideline Chatter photo)


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