It’s still game on for St. Joseph’s Prep vs. Souderton High and other PIAA state semifinal football games set for this weekend.
But the winter sports season for area high schools is likely to be delayed, and could be in jeopardy of cancellation, as the continued spread of the coronavirus has led to new restrictions issued recently by the City of Philadelphia as well as Montgomery County.
St. Joseph’s Prep (4-0), the consensus No. 1 team in the state, is scheduled to face District 1 champion Souderton (7-0) in the state semifinals at noon Saturday at Cardinal O’Hara High School. The winner would advance to the state final on Nov. 28 at HersheyPark Stadium.
Cardinal O’Hara athletic director B.J. Hogan, the site manager for the game as well as the football chair for the Philadelphia Catholic League, said each team will be given 150 tickets for fans.
Because the game is in Springfield, Delaware County, Monday’s new restrictions from the city of Philadelphia that called for no spectators at sporting events would not apply to the PIAA Class 6A contest.
In addition, Upper Dublin High still is scheduled to meet Cathedral Prep in the Class 5A semifinals Friday at Holidaysburg High in Blair County, and Bishop McDevitt of Wyncote still is scheduled to play Southern Columbia in the Class 2A state semifinals Saturday at Selinsgrove High in Snyder County.
Souderton, Upper Dublin, and Bishop McDevitt are located in Montgomery County. On Friday, the county issued guidance requiring high schools to switch to all virtual learning from Nov. 23 until Dec. 7 and to suspend all in-person activities and athletic events in the county during that period.
It’s unclear whether Souderton, Upper Dublin, or Bishop McDevitt would be permitted to compete in the state championships -- which are scheduled for the weekend of Nov. 27-28 at Hershey -- if those teams were to win their state semifinal games.
“We’re still unsure about that,” Upper Dublin coach Bret Stover said Monday.
While football teams will scramble to try to finish seasons, winter-sports squads are uncertain when they might be allowed to begin competition.
James Lynch, executive athletic director of the Philadelphia School District, said the Philadelphia Public League already had plans to delay the start of winter sports such as basketball until the new year.
“When we postponed back in August it was in effect until Jan. 1, so right now that aligns with the city restrictions they announced today,” Lynch said Monday. “Our hope continues to be to stage all three seasons between January and June.”
The Philadelphia Catholic League almost certainly will delay the start of winter sports since the Archdiocese of Philadelphia on Monday issued a statement indicating its high schools in the city would follow the new city guidelines, switching to all-virtual learning starting Nov. 23 and suspending “in-person activities and athletic events” as well.
La Salle athletic director Joe Parisi, the PCL’s basketball chair, said the league was awaiting guidance from the PIAA on winter sports. The PIAA board of directors is scheduled to meet Wednesday.
“We are back to where we were in the fall -- first PIAA decisions then we can decide what we are doing,” Parisi said. “Could change day by day or week by week.”