SOMERSET, NJ - Picture if you will, Saturday, October 3rd, it is a perfect fall afternoon…the air is brisk, the sky is clear, the fans have gathered and the FHS Warriors take the field for the first home game of the 2020 FHS football season. Only for this game, that field will be located at Middlebush Park and those fans will have come prepared for the game, not just with Warrior gear and spirit, but with pre-purchased tickets, face coverings and a socially distant mindset. Yes, the beginning of FHS Football will look a bit different this year, but then again, so has the beginning of the 20-21 school year.
Franklin Township Public School students began the 20-21 school year on Tuesday, September 8, 2020 in a full remote program. Instruction is currently being provided virtually, through a combination of synchronous and asynchronous activities. Beginning on October 5, 2020 some students in specialized programs will return to in person instruction and by late November it is anticipated that all students will have the opportunity to re-enter the classroom in a hybrid learning program.
The fall athletic season will begin on September 30, 2020. “As in years past, we will be operating our athletic season under the rules of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA), but this year we will also be following their guidance pertaining to Covid-19 restrictions,” said Kenneth Margolin, Franklin Township Public Schools Athletic Director. “The NJSIAA recommendations were formulated using State, Department of Education and Health Department guidance. We have used their recommendations through our pre-season practices and will implement their recommendations at games as well.”
Accordingly, no ticket sales will be conducted at the gate. “500 tickets will be sold for each football game, with 350 set aside for the home team to sell and 150 given to the visiting team for distribution. Everyone who comes to a game must already have a ticket or they will be turned away.” explained Mr. Margolin, “Everyone must have a ticket to enter.”
Tickets will be sold, while supplies last, on the Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday before each game. They will be available at the ticket booth near the rear entrance to Franklin High School from 3 pm to 5:30 pm on those days. The Franklin Warrior football team will play both away games and home games with all home games being held on Saturday afternoons, 12 pm start. The complete schedule of games is available on the district and high school websites.
Another change this season is the location of the first home game. Warrior football will take place on the field at Middlebush Park (entrance off of Demott Lane) on October 3rd. This change of location is being made to accommodate the resurfacing of the track at Warrior Stadium.
Once spectators arrive at Middlebush Park on October 3rd and at Warrior Stadium during the rest of the season, they will be expected to have their ticket in hand and to wear a face covering throughout the game. “We are asking everyone to also maintain a social distance between their group and others during the game,” A.D. Margolin said. “Our student athletes have been very cooperative in following the NJSIAA guidelines throughout the pre-season and at practices and we would expect our fans to do the same,” he continued.
These preseason guidelines have included pre-screening forms, temperature checks and face coverings worn when the students are not on the field. “Providing an opportunity for our student athletes to play the games they love while protecting the health and safety of all, is our primary goal for athletics during this fall season,” said Superintendent John Ravally. “Following the guidelines of the NJSIAA will help us provide that opportunity.”
Football is just one of the sports which will be included in the fall athletic schedule this year, tennis, cross country track, cheer, field hockey and both boys and girls soccer will also be featured. As these sports do not draw as many spectators, tickets for these games will not be limited (or sold). However, the wearing of face coverings and social distancing will also be expected by spectators at these events as well.
Despite the challenges brought about by Covid-19, Saturday, October 3rd may still be a perfect day to begin Warrior football at home. We can still wish for brisk air and clear skies and, while the stands may be located off campus and the number of pre-ticketed fans limited, spread out and wearing face coverings; our Franklin Warrior athletes will still be excited, ready and able to play the game they love. Doesn’t that make for the perfect start of a high school football season?