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Pasco County pushes back start of fall sports season

The county will not begin fall sports until Sept. 7. Pinellas County sports won't get underway on Monday, either.

Fall sports at Pasco County schools will not begin until the second week of September.

Though the state’s first allowable practice date for fall sports is July 27, the school district announced the six-week delay to Sept. 7 in a Twitter post Wednesday morning.

The delay, which sets back the start of actual games even further, likely precludes Pasco County teams from participating in the state football playoff series.

The announcement comes a day after Pasco schools delayed the start of the school year two weeks to Aug. 24 due to the coronavirus pandemic. That puts the start of fall athletics in the county two weeks after school resumes.

On Tuesday, Hillsborough County pushed back the start of its fall sports season two weeks to Aug. 10.

Pinellas athletic director Al Bennett said the county will not start fall sports this Monday, as allowed by the state, adding there is not yet a new start date. He said meetings are ongoing to decide the new date and expects a decision to be made early next week, followed by an announcement from the county.

Voluntary conditioning will continue, Bennett said, but nothing else.

Pinellas is considering moving back the start of its academic year from Aug. 12 to Aug. 24.

Hernando County athletic directors are scheduled to meet Thursday morning to discuss the resumption of fall sports, Hernando High co-athletic director Mark Lee said. The county’s current plan is to resume sports on Monday, he said, but that could change after the athletic directors convene.

On Monday night, the Florida High School Athletic Association decided to keep July 27 as the first day for fall sports to begin practices statewide.

Pasco School District spokesperson Steve Hegarty said the delay to Sept. 7 means practices will not resume until that day. Fall sports, most notably football, but also golf and cross country, would begin regular-season competition a few weeks later.

Pinellas’ Bennett said he expects plenty of games to be rescheduled between teams playing opponents across county lines.

For instance, Wiregrass Ranch has football games scheduled against fellow Pasco schools Zephyrhills and Wesley Chapel on Aug. 21 and 28, respectively. But on Sept. 4, three days before practice even begins in Pasco, Wiregrass Ranch is scheduled to play a road game at St. Petersburg, where the start of the season has not yet been determined.

Contact Kyle Wood at kwood@tampabay.com. Follow @Kkylewood.

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