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Coronavirus Impact: High School Football Is Back In New Jersey, But Safety Is Top Priority On Everyone's Mind

WAYNE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- Some fall sports in New Jersey will not be played until the spring.

The state's governing body for high school sports announced Thursday indoor sports will be delayed. Gymnastics and girls volleyball will be moved to a new, special season. Practices will begin on Feb. 16 and competition starts March 3.

But outdoor sports are still a go in the Garden State. On Thursday, CBS2's Nick Caloway went to see what football will look like.


Even in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, the fundamentals of football haven't changed. Still, this season is shaping up to be unlike anything players and coaches have ever been a part of.

"I don't think anybody has been down this road before," Wayne Valley High School football coach Roger Kotlarz said.

Kotlarz is in uncharted waters, but he's glad football is back.

"Everybody is just really excited and feeling good just to have an opportunity to be back out here," Kotlarz said.

MOREAmid Growing Calls For Equality And Inclusivity, Some New Jersey High Schools To Change Mascots

Wayne Valley and high school football programs across the state are getting back to work, with some changes you'll notice right away.

"We're making it work. We have our masks and our gators. We wear it whenever we're not practicing or we're taking a break," senior John Testa said.

CORONAVIRUS: NY Health Dept. | NY Call 1-(888)-364-3065 | NYC Health Dept. | NYC Call 311, Text COVID to 692692 | NJ COVID-19 Info Hub | NJ Call 1-(800)-222-1222 or 211, Text NJCOVID to 898211 | CT Health Dept. | CT Call 211 | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Teams are practicing in smaller groups than they used to, equipment is constantly sanitized, and the season has been shortened.

And it's not just football. Cheerleading and other outdoor fall sports are gearing up for a new season.

Dave Drozjock, Wayne Valley High's assistant principal in charge of athletics, said nearly 500 student-athletes are back on campus and so far there have been no outbreaks.

"We are fortunate. Things could change in a heartbeat, with COVID-19, but we feel like we're doing things the right way," Drozjock said.

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If things go well, Friday nights this fall will include football. If not, that too will be moved to spring.

Wayne Valley won a state championship last year. Coach Kotlarz has his eyes on another title, this fall.

But, first thing's first.

"We talked to our kids about just taking one day at a time. Let's not look too far ahead, and let's not worry about the long-term picture, because we don't know what's in store down the road," Kotlarz said.

The regular season is scheduled to kick off on Oct. 2. It will consist of six regular season games instead of nine.

It is not clear if any fans will be allowed in the stands.

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