Local high schools staying flexible on kick times next weekend

By Malcolm Butler

With temperatures soaring above 100 degrees every day this week, there has been plenty of talk among fans and parents alike about the possibility of local high schools moving start times back in the month of September once the regular season starts.

Officials at the Bayou Jamb reconfigured its schedule this week, although with games originally scheduled to be played all day this Saturday in West Monroe, that move made total sense.

With the start of the regular season just one weekend away, Ruston High School principal Dan Gressett said nothing definitive has been decided about the Bearcats home opener against Warren Easton set for the turf at Hoss Garrett Stadium at 7 p.m. on Sept. 1.

“I don’t have a strong opinion one way or the other to be honest,” said Gressett. “I do think we are flexible enough that if we get to next week and we are looking at temperatures like we have seen this week, I think we are flexible enough to have talks about the intelligence of moving kickoff back 30 minutes.

“We did move our freshman-JV jamboree time this Thursday back an hour from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. simply because of heat. That’s the only reason.”

Gressett said Ruston High and supposedly every LHSAA member school utilizes Wet Bulb Globe Temperature in determining practice abilities. A wet bulb uses temperature, humidity, sun angle, wind speed and cloud cover to determine its readings.

A wet bulb reading is taken before any outdoor workout.

“The wet bulb is dictating everything we do right now,” said Gressett. “Whether we are practicing on grass or turf, whether we are going full pads or just helmets and shorts, whether we are not going out at all. It dictates everything, but that only applies to practice. It doesn’t regulate games, which is a little weird to me.

“It has really changed up our practice plans the last few weeks. I don’t think we have gone on the grass in a couple of years, and we actually had to paint the lines on the grass last week and start practicing on the grass just because of the difference in those wet bulb readings on the grass compared to the turf.”

Gressett said that Ruston Junior High School calls the high school every morning to get a wet bulb reading in order to determine their practice schedule ability.

“They know what they are allowed to do,” said Gressett. “The sixth grade and junior high calls over every morning to get the reading to determine what they are going to do that day.”

Lincoln Prep head coach Glen Hall said he is waiting to hear if the LHSAA will make any type of ruling on kick times.

“We are waiting to see if the LHSAA is going to say anything about it,” said Hall. “We think its a possibility. What I really think we may see, instead of the one water break at six minutes of each quarter, they may do more (water breaks) per quarter. I think that would be on the safe part. They are going to have to do something. It’s crazy hot right now.”

However, Gressett said he doesn’t believe the Louisiana High School Athletic Association has ever chosen to have a say so over starting times, or at least doesn’t remember that ever being the case.

“To my knowledge the LHSAA has no direction on start times,” said Gressett. “I believe it’s up to the individual schools and most likely your district bylaws, especially in the case of a district game. It’s my understand that if we came up with an agreement with the opposing team, that we could kickoff at whatever time we wanted.”

Cedar Creek head coach William Parkerson said that there hasn’t been any types of talks about moving back the kick time to his program’s home opener against Glenbrook on Sept. 1 at 7 p.m. At least not yet. The Cougars do play on natural grass.

“No discussion have been had at this time,” said Parkerson. “We will play it day by day and monitor it. Going off the scrimmage last week (at Lakeside), we started at 6:30 and by 6:45 p.m. it wasn’t awful out there. There have been some hot, miserable days, but nothing that has been like ‘We have to get out of here.'”

Parkerson said that wet bulb readings haven’t directly impacted the Cougars practices, but Cedar Creek has been practicing in the evenings and on natural grass.

“Up until this week we have been going so late in the afternoon that it really hasn’t been an issue,” said Parkerson. “We have been going from 6 to 8 (p.m.).”

The extended forecast is calling for next week’s highs to be in the mid-to-upper 90s, which would be a considerable difference from the triple digits that have at times reached 105 this week.

“At the end of the day our No. 1 priority is the safety of our kids,” said Gressett. “But it’s not just the football players. We have to think about band, cheer, and pep squad. Even fans. It’s everybody.”