St. Johns, Flagler counties set target date for return to high school sports

Bartram Trail defensive back Tre’Vez Johnson returns an interception for a touchdown as Nease quarterback Joe Nieves chases behind. Bartram won the game 52-22. (Ralph D. Priddy, Contributed photo)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – St. Johns and Flagler counties have decided on return dates for high school sports.

St. Johns County will hold its first regular season contests on Sept. 11, while Flagler County will permit its athletes to start practice — not games — on Sept. 5.

The announcements for area counties continue to trickle in following the Florida High School Athletic Association’s vote on Aug. 14 to allow a regular season start date of Sept. 4. The association gave schools the choice to start on that date or afterwards. It said practice could begin Aug. 24.

“We are moving forward with August 24th as the start date for formal practices and fall sports contests can not take place until September 11th,” St. Johns County district athletic director Paul Abbatinozzi said in an email.

“I think this is a very good decision it provides the student athletes with time to acclimate to formal practice and future contest conditions. It also provides the opportunity for all students to acclimate back to school, riding buses etc. under our reopening guidelines. I think it’s a smart decision and look forward to a safe return for everyone back to school and athletics.”

After two weeks of practice that begins Sept. 5, Flagler County could conceivably start games on Sept. 18.

“I recognize the importance of athletics to many of our students and our community,” Flagler Schools Superintendent Cathy Mittelstadt said in a release. “But we need to ensure we are doing all we can do to provide a safe environment for all our students and staff, including our athletic programs.”

On Tuesday, Columbia County announced that practices could begin Sept. 7. Duval County said that practices could start Aug. 24, but the first games would be held in football on Sept. 11. Nassau County will start games on Sept. 4.

Clay County remains the largest area county that hasn’t revealed its start date plans.

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