ROXBURY, NJ — The Roxbury High School football team will be playing on sleek, new turf illuminated by new LED lights when it takes the field Oct. 9 for its first home game.

But it won’t be performing for many fans.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, only about 100 spectators will be allowed on the Roxbury High School primary bleachers, said Roxbury Schools Business Administrator Joseph Mondanaro. The bleachers normally hold about 1,100 Gaels fans.

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Mondanaro, and Roxbury High School Athletic Director Stuart Mason, said there might be room for more spectators – including on the smaller “visitors” bleachers on the other side of the field. Even so, with social distancing requirements remaining in place, the Gaels will be playing in front of far fewer supporters than usually found at a home game.

“Right now, we plan to follow state guidelines and do everything we can to make sure we are safe … but also make it special for our football players, the Roxbury Sound band members and the cheerleaders,” Mason said. “We want to make sure the experience is special, and part of that is to have spectators there.”

Under the current schedule, the football team will play only six times. Its first contest will be an away game against West Morris Central on Oct. 2.

The 7 p.m. Oct. 9 home opener will pit the Gaels against their rivals from Randolph. The only other home games will be Oct. 23 against Mount Olive and Oct. 30 against Morristown.

The district recently completed installing a new $391,365 turf field, a new $679,075 track and new $238,798 stadium lighting at the high school in Succasunna.

“The track was in desperate need of replacing as was the field,” Mondanaro said. “Our stadium lights were retrofitted onto the existing poles. They are LEDs and we now have a control system in place that can work with the use of a smartphone.”

Growth Through Adversity

At a recent Roxbury School Board meeting, Roxbury Schools Superintendent Loretta Radulic praised the student athletes for showing patience and strength during the tumultuous coronavirus pandemic.

“Overall, this summer provided a positive learning experience and an opportunity for our students to really learn and become stronger and better with their athletic skills,” Radulic said. “This speaks to their adaptability, consideration … and willingness to work together. It sounds like we could all learn from our coaches and our players.”

The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) on Wednesday announced its plans for the football post-season.

The playoff games will be called “Football Post-Season Groupings,” said the NJSIAA and the games will take place during Week 7 and Week 8 of the season.

Aiming at Balance

Participation in Football Post-Season Groupings will be open to any school wishing to participate, it said.

“The state’s various football leagues and conferences will take the lead in grouping their member schools into pools that will participate in a two-game series,” said the NJSIAA. “These groupings will take into consideration each school’s enrollment and geography, while striving for competitive balance.”

The Association said it will “solicit intent cards” from all schools. Due by Nov. 2, the cards will indicate whether a school wants to be in the post-season groupings.

“NJSIAA will host a seeding committee meeting of representatives from all five leagues and conferences,” it said. That committee will meet privately the weekend of Nov. 7 and post-season groupings will be announced Nov. 8.

NJSIAA said it will not provide awards or trophies during the post-season.

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