Veteran high school football coach Eric House hates to see his players, especially the seniors, go through this.

But it appears the Greenwood Leflore Consolidated School District is close to pulling the plug on all fall sports in wake of growing concerns about the spread of COVID-19. Dr. Mary Brown, superintendent, recommended this week the cancellation of fall sports and activities during a work session with the school board. She told them that following the long list of health guidelines for a safe return to play wasn’t “feasible” for the district and that it’s just “not safe” to restart sports yet.

Should the Greenwood Leflore Consolidated School District cancel football and other fall sports?

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The five-person board is expected to vote Tuesday in a decision that will impact three different high schools — Greenwood, Leflore County and Amanda Elzy.

House, in his fifth season as head football coach at Leflore County, said he understands the recommendation but is disappointed that so many kids in this area who need sports won’t have them.

“I hate for the boys who have worked hard this summer on their own, away from the school, who were excited about building on last year’s success,” House said. “I guess we’ll see what happens. I do understand, though, that the safety of all our students comes first.”

The Mississippi High School Activities Association has delayed the start of the 2020 season from Aug. 21 to Sept. 4. Earlier this week, the Greenville Public School District board of trustees voted to cancel all fall middle and high school athletics and activities.

Many high school programs resumed workouts in June and are forging ahead with plans to play in 2020. GHS assistant coach Carey Weaver doesn’t think it’s safe to do so here.

“I agree with Dr. Brown,” said the GHS offensive coordinator. “I don’t think many teams will actually get to play when it’s all said and done, but that doesn’t mean this is an easy decision. I see both sides, but in the end, we have to make sure everyone is safe first.”

House said he has several seniors who are hoping for college scholarship offers that may never come now if they don’t have scouting film as a senior. The coach said he would fully support any player who wanted to transfer to a private school to play this fall.   

Leflore County offensive lineman Edgar Swims is one of those hoping for a shot at the next level.  He is still trying to wrap his head around it all, but that he wouldn’t likely transfer to a nearby private school just finish out his final season.

“It’s tough, and it hurts,” Swims said. “But these guys here at Leflore are my brothers. It wouldn’t feel right without them out there.”

Swims’ teammate, Kerrick Ross, a versatile senior who has played running back, quarterback and wide receiver, said he will be devastated if the season is canceled, saying it would be a “burden on my heart.”

“When you put so much into getting ready for your senior season and you know now it’s probably not going to happen, it hurts,” Ross said.      

DeAndre Smith Sr., the father of star GHS quarterback DeAndre Smith Jr., is among some parents not happy about the recommendation from the top GLCSD brass. He said, with the amount of gun violence in Greenwood right now, that kids in this community need sports more than ever.

Smith Sr. said if the board votes in favor of the cancellation, his son would look to transfer to a local private school to play his junior season, believing that Smith Jr. needs to have junior film to boost his college recruiting.

“We will have to wait and see what happens with the board first, but I want my son to play football if at all possible. I understand there are no guarantees, but we have to consider our options,” said Smith Sr.

Smith Jr. really blossomed in his second season as the Bulldogs’ starter. He completed 120 of 207 passes for 2,537 yards and 27 touchdowns en route to leading GHS to a 13-1 season. He also ran for 690 yards and 15 scores on 102 carries and was named Region 3-4A Offensive Player of Year.

Considered one of the top 10 quarterbacks in the state this year and the top junior QB in Mississippi, the 6-foot-1, 200-pounder has already impressed college scouts by leading Greenwood to 24 wins in his first two seasons. He passed for 1,667 yards with 17 touchdowns and seven interceptions as a freshman.

His accomplishments on the field have already garnered him offers from Southern Miss and Arkansas State, but that list is sure to grow if he continues to impress in his junior season.

nContact Bill Burrus at 581-7237 or bburrus@gwcommonwealth.com.

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