By DAVID LOPEZ
As if 2020 wasn’t punitive enough, the pandemic drastically altered the Valley community’s Friday night football rituals. Some teams, such as the Rio Hondo Bobcats, ended their season before it began. But others, including all in the 32-6A district, will be facing the stadium lights this month.
Meanwhile, district 16-4A had to say goodbye to one of its most dynamic Valley teams, the Bobcats, as mentioned above. This loss left one game for the RGV teams within this district: the Port Isabel Tarpons will face the Raymondville Bearkats on November 6 for a shot at third place in the playoffs.
District 32-6A will see no scrimmages or non-district games; 32-6A teams will play seven district games back-to-back in seven weeks. The top four teams will head to the playoffs as in previous years.
Fans will have to adhere to the strict rules, with some stadiums allowing only 25 percent capacity. For the Harlingen teams, this guideline allows about 2,200 fans inside, while the Bobby Morrow Stadium will seat up to 2,400 people.
Football fans can also expect to see only the home team’s band play, as no bands will be traveling this season. The Mighty Greyhound Band has confirmed it will be participating in the ’Hounds’ four home games.
Among the other protections ensuring a safe and guaranteed season are the athletes’ rules for play: the boys will wear masks under their helmets when their helmets are on and practice with social distancing and with as little contact as possible. Players will not shake hands with their opponents, much less their fans on stands as was custom post-games.
The nucleus of this district 32-6A has been the same for the past four years, but this year, the Weslaco Panthers are back, and the Donna North Chiefs join the heavyweight squad.
With practice starting on October 5, 6A teams will have about three weeks before their first game.
How this season will pan out is anyone’s guess, but one thing remains clear: football is alive and well in south Texas.