HUNTINGTON — West Virginia’s color-coded COVID-19 map will remain in effect for postseason high school sports in the state.
The West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission on Thursday released a plan that allows schools that are in green, yellow, and gold counties on the Saturday before postseason play to be eligible to participate in football, soccer and volleyball tournaments. Schools from counties in red or orange will not be permitted to play, except for cross country squads in orange if they receive negative COVID-19 test results within seven days of the first playoff game.
A notable change from the regular season is that schools in counties designated gold will be eligible to play against schools in green and yellow counties rather than just against squads in other gold counties.
Teams in any sports in counties that are red on the Saturday map, or that turn red on the daily map during the week, will be ineligible for the postseason.
On Saturday, Mingo County was listed as an orange county on the weekly map which essentially ended the seasons for both the Tug Valley and Mingo Central soccer and volleyball teams as there postseasons were slated to begin this week.
The Tug Valley and Mingo Central football teams still have a chance to make their respective postseasons and compete, as long as Mingo County is designated as a green, yellow, or gold county when the playoffs start.
The Panthers were at No. 4 in the Class A ratings last week with a 3-0 mark on the season. They last played on Oct. 6 when they beat James Monroe 38-32.
Tug Valley were scheduled to play Richwood this Friday night but the game was cancelled due to COVID-19. They have away games at Man and Wirt County currently remaining on the schedule.
Mingo Central has more of an up-hill climb to qualify for the postseason as they have a 1-2 record on the year and are currently tied for No. 26 in the Class AA ratings with Chapmanville.
MCHS was scheduled to play at Herbert Hoover this past week but the game was also cancelled. The Miners have home games against Chapmanville and perennial Class AA power Bluefield remaining on the schedule. The Miners last took the field Oct. 9 in a 28-22 win at Tolsia.
While both teams only have two games remaining on their current schedules, the possibility remains that games could be added if Mingo County athletes are cleared to play.
The WVSSAC also announced that fan attendance in the postseason will be capped at 20 percent of the host facility’s capacity.
The organization announced some football-specific rules. Each team must complete four regular season games to become eligible for the playoff. The top 16 eligible teams according to the WVSSAC Ratings at the end of the regular season will enter the playoffs.
Teams not eligible for the playoffs or teams that did not compete in 10 regular-season games may add games to their schedules until Nov. 28th. Bonus points accumulated during these added games will not count towards playoff seeding.
The WVSSAC has also released modifications to winter sports basketball, swimming and wrestling. Topping the list is that face coverings for coaches, bench personnel, cheerleaders and those at the scorer’s table are required.
In basketball, no jump ball will take place, with the visiting team being awarded the ball to be taken out of bounds to begin each game.
An official is to stand at least six feet from the inbounding player and bounce the ball, rather than hand it, to that player. The lead official is to stand at the end line and bounce the ball to any free throw shooter. Handshakes before and after contests are prohibited. Each student-athlete is responsible for bringing his own water bottle and no shared drinking containers or towels may be used.
Only the head coach from each team will attend pre-game conferencing with one official. Spectators are to sit no closer than the fourth row from the floor behind the team benches.
Officials are no longer required to wear jackets during pregame activities and are to wear black neck gaiters when social distancing is not possible. Officials will not sign the scorebook, but will provide a 3- x 5-inch index card with the names and officials numbers.
Note: Contributions were made to this article by HD Media reporter Jarrid McCormick.