Jerry Edwards is planning for everything.
Coming off a one-win season in 2018, Harker Heights rebounded last year, returning to the playoffs after placing fourth in the District 12-6A standings.
In approximately two and a half weeks, the Knights were scheduled to start spring practices as they aim to take another step forward as a program.
Like the rest of the globe, however, their plans were altered due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus, which threatens to cancel spring football altogether.
Harker Heights’ head coach is preparing for all possibilities, though.
“As soon as they started suspending the NBA season and canceling the NCAA tournament,” Edwards said, “I started wondering how long this was going to last and decided I better have a plan.
“I’ve already reached out and secured a first-week scrimmage just in case we don’t do spring ball. I’m just trying to be proactive among all these unknowns.”
Harker Heights’ first practice of the spring was set for April 7, but the University Interscholastic League last week suspended all activities — games, workouts and practices — through at least May 4.
While the timetable leaves hope for the Knights to push back their schedule and take part, judging by the precedent being set by governing bodies of high school, college and professional teams around the world, spring practice is still in jeopardy.
And clarity is not easy to come by during this fluid period.
“I’ve been talking with coaching friends,” Edwards said, “and we’re all trying to figure out when is the drop-dead date. At what point do we say, ‘All right, spring ball is not going to be beneficial, and we need to roll it into next year?’
“I don’t know that answer, but I do know that once we regain normalcy, it is still going to be chaotic.”
The UIL has already announced a contingency plan should spring football be canceled altogether. Instead of beginning fall practices on Aug. 12, teams would start on Aug. 3 and be permitted to add an additional scrimmage.
Like the Knights, Shoemaker intends to build on last season, when the Grey Wolves, who won two games in 2018, capped off the regular season by winning six of their final seven games en route to a postseason berth.
Shoemaker was not scheduled to begin spring practices until April 27, but Grey Wolves head coach Toby Foreman understands the issue is out of his control.
“Right now,” he said, “my approach is optimistic, and we’ll be ready for whatever happens.
“But what we are going to be able to do will be determined by our school district and the UIL.”
Also last Thursday, Gov. Greg Abbott ordered all schools closed statewide until at least April 3. Killeen ISD students have been out of class since spring break started March 9.
Foreman experienced a pair of similar extended delays while working at West Orange-Stark after hurricanes struck the area in 2005 and 2008, canceling school for approximately a month each time.
But even he cannot completely relate to the current situation.
“The difference is when a hurricane comes through,” Foreman said, “it does its damage and it leaves. This is something where we just don’t know what is going to happen.
“It just seems to be escalating every day.”
Last week’s UIL statement on extended suspension:
The University Interscholastic League (UIL) is extending its suspension of all UIL sanctioned activities due to the outbreak of COVID-19 in Texas. All contests, practices, rehearsals and workouts will remain suspended until further notice.
At this time, the earliest games and contests may resume is Monday, May 4th. Prior to this date, the UIL will allow its member schools a reasonable acclimatization period for rehearsals and practices to occur. All decisions remain flexible and will be consistent with the advice of local, state and federal officials.
“We are working diligently on contingency plans to conduct state championships in each of the activities that have been suspended,” said UIL Executive Director Dr. Charles Breithaupt. “While the immediate future is unclear, we are committed to providing these much-desired activities to all Texas students and will prepare for all possible outcomes, including extended school closures.”