Mainland vs Egg Harbor Township

Mainland vs Egg Harbor Township annual thanksgiving day football game at Egg Harbor Township Thursday Nov 28, 2019. Edward Lea Staff Photographer / Press of Atlantic City

The Cape-Atlantic League is recommending that its member schools not begin summer workouts until July 27 for football and Aug. 3 for other fall sports and band.

The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association announced last month that state high school sports could begin phase 1 of their return July 13.

The CAL executive board of athletic directors made the recommendation for the delay after consulting with superintendents of member schools, according to CAL president and Egg Harbor Township High School athletic director Mike Pellegrino.

“We’re not prepared in all honesty,” Pellegrino said in a phone interview Thursday night. “Between the needs of keeping the student athlete safe, the safety of our coaches, we’re just needing more time to prepare a plan to keep everyone safe and sound. Most of our campuses aren’t even open yet. Personnel is not back on campus.”

It is not clear how many of the league’s 22 schools will follow the recommendation. St. Augustine Prep athletic director Mike Rizzo said the Hermits will follow the NJSIAA guidelines and begin phase 1 workouts on July 13. 

Phase 1 lasts until July 26 and allows no-contact workouts that last a maximum of 90 minutes. It is the first of four phases that will carry the state high school sports to the start of fall-season practices. NJSIAA has not yet announced what phase 2 entails.

The NJSIAA also announced last month that the high school football season would start a week later. Games scheduled for the week of Aug. 28-29 must be canceled or rescheduled.

Football practices are now scheduled to begin Aug. 10 and practices for other sports Aug. 17. Pellegrino said the the CAL’s delay still gives the league’s athletes two weeks of conditioning to prepare for the preseason.

Pellegrino said CAL teams are encouraged to continue virtual meetings and practices until July 27.

“There’s no need for these kids to be on campus right now,” he said. "Holding off until July 27 is doing no harm to anyone. No one is going to win or lose a game because they didn't start July 13."

The NJSIAA has formed two task forces to guide the comeback of high school sports from the pandemic.

The COVID-19 Sports Advisory Task Force consists of athletic directors who will consider a wide range of sports-specific proposals and recommendations with a focus on implementing, executing and enforcing potential modifications. This task force will seek input from athletic directors around the state.

The COVID-19 Medical Advisory Task Force consists primarily of medical professionals and will identify and implement both general and sports-specific modifications.

The Sports Advisory Task Force has yet to issue any statement. The Medical Advisory Task Force is designing the four phases of return.

NJSIAA chief operating officer Colleen Maguire said there will be changes to the fall season. Those changes could include reduced games and travel and shorter seasons that start later and end earlier, according to Maguire.

Pellegrino said CAL officials just need more information on how the fall preseason and season will unfold.

“There are so many aspects to football alone that we don’t have answers to and no one does,” Pellegrino said. “Tell me what it is we need to do to guarantee the safety of all our student-athletes. Until we resolved those main issues there’s no need to be on campus right now.”

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