In this November 2018 file photo, Fryeburg Academy's Caleb Bowles (left) skips away from Nokomis High School's Elijah Griffith during the Class C state football championship game in Portland. At least 35 states are planning to conduct a football season during the 2020-2021 academic year. Credit: Troy R. Bennett | BDN

If there is high school football in Maine this fall, the Pine Tree State will be one of 35 that will offer football during its normal time period.

But only 19 of those states have already begun or are planning to start their seasons on time due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Maine high school sports remain in limbo as the Maine Principals’ Association addresses concerns raised Tuesday in a letter from the Maine Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Education. Those agencies are not satisfied with the MPA’s guidelines for a return to play this fall.

According to, other states will delay the start of their seasons anywhere from five days in the case of Arkansas to 42 days in Arizona.

Texas implemented two starting dates. Its largest high schools, classified 6A and 5A, were scheduled to begin five weeks later after the smaller schools, which got going on Aug. 27.

The other 15 states and the District of Columbia are moving their seasons to 2021.

Vermont is planning to play football in the fall but it is going to use a 7-on-7 format and it will be one-hand touch, not tackle.

California has targeted Jan. 8 for the start of its football season. Washington, D.C., Colorado, Massachusetts and North Carolina are beginning in February and players in Virginia, New Mexico, Nevada, Washington and Oregon will put on the pads in March.

Delaware, Michigan, Illinois, Minnesota, Maryland and Hawaii have yet to establish their 2021 starting dates.

Maine’s fall high school season had been scheduled to begin on Aug. 17 but was pushed back until Sept. 8. The teams were going to have a seven-week season and could play up to six games.

Contests weren’t going to begin until the weekend of Sept. 25-26.

On Tuesday, the Maine Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Education sent a letter to Mike Burnham, the interscholastic executive director of the Maine Principals’ Association, recommending that the MPA push back the start of the season even further because some of its safety guidelines didn’t conform to the state’s protocols.

Several states have been creative in trying to manufacture the safest possible environment for athletes and coaches.

For example, Oregon moved its fall sports to the spring and adopted a three-season format beginning in late December after designating Aug. 31 to Dec. 27 as a training period for the various sports.

Basketball, swimming and wrestling will be held from Dec. 28 to March 16; football, cross country, lacrosse and volleyball are slated for Feb. 22 to May 8; and baseball, softball, golf, tennis and track and field are scheduled for April 19 to June 26.

North Carolina also rearranged its sports schedules with football practice beginning on Feb. 8, 2021, and a shortened seven-game schedule starting on Feb. 26. Cross country, volleyball, swimming and diving will go from November to January; basketball, lacrosse and boys soccer will begin in January; golf, girls soccer, softball and tennis will begin in March; and baseball, girls tennis, track and field and wrestling will get an April start.

Iowa suspended its spring sports on April 17 but resumed play on June 15. It conducted its state championship games in softball July 30-31 before baseball concluded its postseason on Aug. 1 when 29,904 fans attended the four title games at Principal Park in Des Moines, home of the AAA Iowa Cubs.

However, several schools did shut down their teams after the re-start due to COVID-19 outbreaks.

Iowa will offer football in the fall but it will be a seven-week season with teams able to play between five and seven games. Every team qualifies for postseason play.