Masked birds

After the KHSAA announcement about fall sports on Tuesday, it took Scott County football coach Jim McKee, left, Great Crossing coach Ricky Bowling, center, and Great Crossing athletic director Austin Haywood only a few hours to reschedule this year’s rivalry game.

If there is a high school football season — and the KHSAA (see related story) is taking all possible steps to make one happen — there will be a second-annual Battle of the Birds.

The rivalry game between Scott County and Great Crossing, initially set to launch the season on Aug. 21, has been moved to week two of the revised, eight-game schedule on Friday, Sept. 18. Kickoff at Birds’ Nest Stadium is set for 7:30 p.m.

Venerable SC coach Jim McKee and first-year GC leader Ricky Bowling met at midfield Wednesday afternoon to make the joint announcement.

“Those familiar with the scheduling process for high school football teams, after the (KHSAA) announcement, it was a mad scramble,” McKee said. “Coach and I had already talked maybe a week ago. In our gut we knew the season’s probably going to start a little bit later, so we said let’s throw out some ideas. Let’s have that discussion ready to roll.”

The KHSAA Board of Control determined Tuesday to move ahead with a delayed start to the fall season. Football practice will begin in earnest on Aug. 24, giving teams less than three weeks to prepare for their season openers on Sept. 11.

Also with the KHSAA’s blessing, SC, GC and other teams have met regularly for conditioning workouts since mid-June.

“It’s been a long process, a little bit of a headache, but that’s just part of it right now, and we’re going to keep rolling with it,” Bowling said. “We’re just blessed that we have the opportunity to hopefully have a season this year for our seniors and our school district.”

One thing the KHSAA has yet to address: How many spectators will be permitted to attend the big game? 

With Kentucky and all neighboring states in the middle of a COVID-19 surge, those particulars may be unsettled until the days leading up to the game.

GCHS athletic director Austin Haywood, who joined the coaches as they revealed the new date, said he and SCHS AD Steve Helton will get that information to fans as soon as it is available.

“We know where its going to be played, when it’s going to be played, who’s playing, but what we don’t know is what fans look like or what tickets look like,” Haywood said.

Scott County rolled to a 72-7 win before a record crowd of more than 7,000 last August.

Haywood advised fans to make use of the delayed start by perhaps creating a GoFan account, which the district is likely to use for contactless ticketing. 

In preparation for possible reduced capacity, he also suggested fans consider a monthly subscription to NFHS Network, an online service that would allow them to watch streaming video of all home sporting events for both schools.

The cost is $9.95 per month.

McKee used the occasion as a public service announcement to remind all who hope for full-tilt scholastic sports in 2020-21 to follow mask mandates and other recommendations from the governor and health officials.

“By doing your part, hopefully you increase the chances of those seniors having a great experience,” McKee said.

Both teams have showcased their “healthy at work” activities on social media, but it is no substitute for live contact.

“We’re excited to get going,” Bowling said. “Being my first year, our second year as a program, our kids are fired up. We’ve got a chip on our shoulder. We’re ready to rock and roll.”

Kal Oakes can be reached via email at sports@news-graphic.com.

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