Mountaineers celebrate score

Appalachian State head coach Shawn Clark is eager to field a Mountaineer team that returns 10 starters on offense, including wide receiver Thomas Hennigan (5) and quarterback Zac Thomas.

BOONE — Although App State continues to seek fill-in opponents for the open dates on its 2020 schedule, a home football game is not planned to be held at Kidd Brewer Stadium on Sept. 5, Athletics spokesperson Joey Jones confirmed.

Among the COVID-19 restrictions that are in place as part of the state’s Phase 2 reopening plan — which Gov. Roy Cooper last week extended until Sept. 11 — is a ban on outdoor gatherings of more than 25 people.

“While our scheduling remains fluid, we are not currently planning on playing a home football game on Sept. 5,” Jones said.

App State’s scheduled home-opener has been uncertain since July 16, when opponent Morgan State’s conference, the MEAC, announced that all fall athletics have been suspended due to COVID-19.

By contrast, the Mountaineers’ conference, the Sun Belt, announced on Aug. 4 that it plans to proceed with its football season beginning Labor Day weekend, and that members will play eight conference games with up to four non-conference games allowed.

App State Athletics leaders have continued to say that the department is actively pursuing new opponents for all of this year’s non-conference games that have been altered to date. Those include the Sept. 5 game, the Sept. 11 game at Wake Forest and the Sept. 19 game at Wisconsin.

On July 28, a Yosef Club email indicated that App State is planning to host home football games and other sporting events on campus this fall. The email stated that game day coordinators were modeling scenarios for seating capacity with social distancing, and that priorities for seating will be App State students and season ticket holders.

Appalachian State head coach Shawn Clark is eager to field a Mountaineer team that returns 10 starters on offense, seven starters on defense and all three specialists — regardless of how many fans are in the stands.

“We’d love to have a full-capacity stadium, but we might not,” Clark said during an Aug. 6 interview with reporters. “The one thing about football, I think it’s the greatest game on Planet Earth. If you can’t get excited to play football, then you don’t deserve to be in a college football locker room.”

On Aug. 10, college football players across the nation took to social media to advocate for a 2020 football season, using the hashtags #WeWantToPlay and #WeAreUnited. The movement came after sports news outlets reported that an emergency meeting of Power Five conference commissioners was held Aug. 9 to discuss the fall football season.

The Sun Belt Conference said on Aug. 4 that it will continue to monitor health trends across its member communities, and that Sun Belt presidents and chancellors, athletics directors, the COVID-19 Advisory Panel and medical advisors will continue to review data to ensure a safe return to activities and competition.

“Our data review will cross seven states and 12 counties and include, among other things, infection rates, hospitalization rates, local health directives, advancements in COVID-19 testing and campus, department and team health trends,” the conference said. “We will continue to provide updates on the league’s activities as the impact of the pandemic continues to evolve.”

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