Will Northeast Ohio high school football stands be empty because of Covid-19?

High school football teams hoping parents will be allowed to attend

Mike Elder

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - When Dr. Anthony Fauci talks about the NFL playing in a bubble, insulated from everyone and everything, well ... what does that mean for the lower levels?

Can we really expect high schools in Northeast Ohio, the hotbed of football, where thousands pack the bleachers, to field teams and play under the lights on Friday nights without parents in the stands?

It's hard to fathom.

First things first, though.

Actually being allowed to play football in two months.

“I do believe we’re gonna have a season,” Avon Eagles head coach Mike Elder told me during a Zoom meeting. “I do believe we’re gonna play football. I’m optimistic. I believe our country right now probably needs athletics more than it ever has.”

Elder's right, and not just because he's built Avon into a perennial contender. But because he knows how much it means to the kids, and the community.

He doesn't expect things to be the same. In fact, he hopes some things, like safety precautions, are vastly improved.

But he believes his players, and other athletes, and the kids in the band, everyone ... need that daily structure that they come to rely on.

“I grew up in Warren, Ohio, in a community that’s drastically different than Avon, Ohio,” Elder said. “But I will tell you this: kids no matter where you live or where you’re at need structure in their lives, and they need a sense of belonging to something in their lives.”

As for packing the stands, well, maybe they won’t be packed. Which is unfortunate, considering the Eagles open against Avon Lake.

But he does believe fans will be allowed in, especially parents.

“Our first game is against our rivals, and that game usually attracts 5,000 or 6,000 people, standing-room only,” Elder said. “Will they allow that to happen? I don’t know. I hope so. I think the first group they’d let in are the parents. I don’t ever see us playing without them.”

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