High School Football Returns With Masks, Reduced Stadium Capacity

Friday, August 28th 2020, 5:43 pm
By: Ashlyn Brothers

JENKS, Okla. -

The Friday night frenzy is back, but it’s going to look different from seasons past.

Athletes are gearing up while football fans mask up as Jenks High School kicks off its season Friday night against the Har-Ber Wildcats of Springdale, Arkansas. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. 

“I think everybody in Springdale, probably everybody in Tulsa, is happy that there’s going to be football on Friday night. That’s the first thing,” said Rick Schaeffer, media relations spokesperson for Springdale Public Schools. “The AAA in Arkansas has gone through a long series of safety procedures to make sure this could happen.”  

The Director of Athletics for Jenks Public Schools said both teams are doing their part to keep players healthy and safe. The stadium is at 30% capacity, as with any varsity events, and masks required inside the bleachers. They also have safety protocols listed at all the gates. All tickets are pre-sold through the athletic department. This includes student tickets because the district is not offering activity passes this year. Jenks’ High School said the season athletic passes are sold out.  

"I think they're anxious to get to play. I think we're thrilled to have the opportunity to open up a season," said Tony Dillingham, director of athletics for Jenks Public Schools. “We had a really good week last week as we went through the preview. The kids are ready.” 

Wildcat representatives said you can expect 155 fans on their end.  

"You've got two great programs going at each other,” said Schaeffer. “Jenks might be a little bit better this year, but what a great opener for these two teams to play against each other.”  

Jenks' A.D. said the student section will get to dress up and sport themes, but they've been moved to south end zone with the band. They’ve put green dots throughout the student section to try and encourage social distancing. Concessions will be operated by band members, who won't march at halftime but will still perform the national anthem and sound their instruments from the stands.  

“I think it should be a really good ballgame, and hopefully we’ll keep everyone healthy,” said Dillingham. “Not only from a physical standpoint on the field, but also with the issues we face with COVID-19.” 

Schaeffer said the AAA in Arkansas is not allowing any travel for spirit groups or bands, so they will be bare bones. 

On the turf, Jenks’ spirit squad will be cheering on the Trojans, along with athletic trainers in proper protective attire. Athletes will have separate water jugs, and the Wildcats have two locker rooms for proper distancing. Har-Ber is using three buses to transport 58 players, to allow for social distancing.  

“There is one player assigned to every row. Seats are assigned, so they know who’s next to each other. So, if you do have an issue later you do know who has been in close contact,” said Schaeffer. “They also [left] Springdale at 3:30. Normally, they would leave long before then, and that allows them to get to the stadium basically in time to warm up and play. Not have time to sit around.” 

Schaeffer said that when the game is over, they’ll head right back to Springdale to try and guard against too much contact between players and others at the game.