‘All things considered, we still get to play:’ St. John XXIII coach Richardson welcomes TAPPS news

St. John XXIII coach Clay Richardson talks to players during a practice in August 2019. (PHOTO BY MARK GOODMAN)

BY DENNIS SILVA II | DENSILVA2@GMAIL.COM

The Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools (TAPPS) announced on Friday it is delaying the start of its fall sports season.

The season has been pushed back because of a significant and severe rise of cases of COVID-19, or the novel coronavirus.

Programs can return to practice on Sept. 8. Volleyball and individual sports, like cross country, can start their respective seasons Sept. 21.

Football teams will have one scrimmage the week of Sept. 21, followed by the start-up of the season on Sept. 28.

“All things considered, we still get to play,” said Clay Richardson, head football coach of St. John XIII, which is in TAPPS Division I-District 2. “Can you imagine being a senior knowing you won’t play college football, but you love the game so much and it’s taken away from you? That would be heartbreaking.”

Richardson said he expects the same timeline to be mapped out when the UIL makes its own announcement regarding fall sports on Monday.

“The way TAPPS works, TAPPS doesn’t want to go out on a limb on a whole lot of decisions and they will usually fall in suit with what UIL does,” Richardson said. “That makes me think they announced today because they know what the UIL’s decision on Monday is going to be, which, I’m going to guess, is the exact same thing we just did.”

Richardson said the TAPPS alternatives to the delayed start were playing football in the spring or not playing a  season at all.

“Playing in the spring … that, to me, was just unacceptable because what happens when you want to play football again in the fall? You can’t play in the spring and then go back in the fall,” he said. “I just thought that wasn’t viable. So, if that wasn’t going to happen, the next one was going to be they’re just not going to play fall sports. Looking at the college ranks, there are a lot of Division III schools not playing football this fall, and that’s just awful.”

Richardson, however, does see the latest maneuvering as a potential last-ditch attempt for TAPPS to have a football season.

“I think it’d be foolish to think this is absolutely etched into stone because of the craziness of the last few months and the way things change minute to minute,” Richardson said. “But I think the only other option now is we’re either going to play starting Sept. 8 or we’re not going to play. I think that would be the only other option at this point. Hopefully we won’t get to that.”

Richardson said athletic director Billy Jackson will have a virtual meeting with his peers on Monday to iron out wrinkles in scheduling. The Lions’ first district game is against St. Thomas, and that is currently scheduled to be played the week of the scrimmage.

“I don’t know what they’re going to do on that,” Richardson said. “They could say that since us and St. Thomas are already scheduled that week of scrimmages, it won’t be a district game, but it’ll be a scrimmage. I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s the way they do it.”

St. John XXIII is entering its fifth year under Richardson. The Lions went 7-3 last season after winning the TAPPS Division V state title in 2018.

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