MONROE COUNTY — The prep football season is expected to kickoff next week, with Key West High School heading to Westminster Academy on Oct. 2 and Coral Shores traveling south to tussle with county rival Marathon on that same night. If all goes well through the reopening of high school sports, those will be the final fall sports programs in the Keys to officially begin the season.
“The rescheduling has been the toughest part,” said Key West High Athletic Director Sarah Eckert, who will had the Conchs’ cross country and golf teams opening its seasons on Monday in Marathon.
The Conchs’ cross country team has six scheduled meets this season — two at home on the Robert E. Price Memorial Course at the Key West Golf Club after not having any last season — but none are at the typical Miami locations with several public parks still closed in the area.
Key West will travel twice to run at Monsignor Pace, but that will be the farthest they travel in the regular season.
Coral Shores’ long distance runners will not even leave the county as their three meets are scheduled at either Marathon or Key West.
“We haven’t gotten a firm answer on staying overnight yet, so I didn’t want to schedule these overnight trips and then have to back out of the events and then have holes in the schedule,” Eckert said. “I’d rather have something confirmed.”
The Conchs’ AD also noted that golf coach Justin Smoot has struggled to find opponents.
“We will have at least one at home with Marathon coming to us,” Eckert said.
That is better than the swim teams. The Conchs and Hurricanes have only two scheduled events penciled in — both of those being virtual meets against each other.
“Everyone else is having trouble getting into their pools and most programs haven’t started yet,” Eckert said. “We are very fortunate the college and the golf club are working with us, because they don’t have to. A lot of the other schools, with Miami-Dade and Broward trying to do a slow reopen, are eliminating events like high school sports.”
No spectators will be allowed for the swim, cross country or golf meets in Key West.
“We are working out the fans for volleyball and football still,” Eckert said. “I’m going to be trying to do as much Facebook Live as I can because parents can’t be there.”
In Marathon and Coral Shores, indoor sports, such as volleyball, will be limited to two tickets per athlete and coach, while outdoor sports like football will allow four tickets per athlete and coach.
“These can change very quickly due to the COVID climate,” Marathon Athletic Director Lance Martin said. “We are sorry, but this has to be enforced with no exceptions. If traveling to away events, there will be restrictions also. Some schools will not allow any visiting spectators. We will try and keep you updated. Also, masks must be worn from time you enter campus and until you exit campus during events.”
Coral Shores was to be the first to host a contest in Monroe County on Monday, Sept. 21, against Marathon and then head south to Key West on Wednesday, Sept. 23, for the Conchs’ first home event on since March 18 when the spring seasons were abruptly suspended and then canceled. Marathon will also host its first out-of-town team on Wednesday, when Everglades Prep comes to the Middle Keys campus for a volleyball match.
The Conchs will host their first cross country meet the following week on Saturday, Oct. 3, the day after football kickoffs in the county — giving the Conchs, Dolphins and Hurricanes a final two-week notice until fall sports fully return.
“I’m happy for the kids and coaches and I’m motivated by the challenges/logistics or running these events,” Coral Shores Athletic Director Rich Russell. “We have protocols in place, but I’m sure we’ll have some curveballs we have to respond to in real time.”