BP 23, FS 11, 31.jpg

Bridgeport’s JT Muller tries to escape a tackle attempt by Fairmont Senior’s Nicky Scott during the teams’ meeting at East-West Stadium earlier this season.

FAIRMONT — With postseason play for cross country in full swing and right around the corner for soccer, volleyball and football, the WVSSAC released its plan for the playoffs in regards to the state's COVID-19 metrics map. 

And it could equate to a doomsday scenario for teams across the state in each of football, soccer and volleyball. 

Teams from counties color-coded either orange or red on the weekly Saturday 5 p.m. map will not be permitted to compete in the playoffs in all three of football, soccer and volleyball. Teams in green, yellow and gold counties, meanwhile, will be allowed to compete without any restrictions in regards to travel or opponent. Teams in gold counties have been confined to competing against only in-county teams or teams from other gold counties during the regular season. 

Cross country, which has regionals statewide scheduled for next week, is the lone outlier within the WVSSAC's plan of the remaining active fall sports. In only cross country, athletes in orange counties will be permitted to compete in the postseason as long as they receive a negative COVID-19 test within seven days of competition. Runners in red counties, however, will still be barred from competing in the postseason. 

The divide between cross country — as well as golf which concluded the season last week — and football, soccer and volleyball in regards to the eligibility of teams in orange counties is related to the level of risk of each sport as identified by the National Federation of State High School Associations. Football, soccer and volleyball are deemed moderate-to-high risk sports by the NFHS, while cross country is a low risk sport. 

Postseason play for cross country and soccer are scheduled to begin next week statewide, with cross country holding regional meets and soccer beginning its sectional tournaments, meaning this upcoming Saturday's map could eliminate teams from the playoffs and effectively end their seasons. Any cross country teams or individual runners in red counties and any soccer teams in orange or red counties on this Saturday's map will be banned from competing in the postseason. 

Volleyball and football postseasons are scheduled to begin during the first week of November.

No restrictions will be placed on host sites or schools in counties that are either green, yellow or gold. Events scheduled to be hosted in counties labeled either orange or red, however, are subject to change. The Class A Region II regional cross country meet, for example, has already been moved from Doddridge County High School to Tucker County High School, after Doddridge County went into the red on the metrics map this week. 

Also as part of the WVSSAC's plan for postseason play, spectator attendance for all events will be capped at twenty percent capacity.

The WVSSAC consulted with both the West Virginia Department of Education and the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources in determining all postseason guidelines and protocols. 

Email Bradley Heltzel at bheltzel@timeswv.com or follow him on Twitter @bradheltzTWV.

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