Golden Bear Stadium glows

The bleachers and press box are shown behind a goal post on Tuesday at Golden Bear Stadium at Bryan High School.

Bryan’s football team will open the season with back-to-back road games in an all-league slate as the Northwest Ohio Athletic League released its revised 2020 prep football schedule on Tuesday.

Athletic directors from NWOAL schools met at Delta on Monday night and determined an all-conference schedule was the best path forward, after the Ohio High School Athletic Association on Friday afternoon announced multiple changes to the season. A six-game regular season schedule and all teams being eligible for the playoffs were the main changes.

“The NWOAL is obviously one of the oldest leagues in Ohio and we wanted to maintain that integrity,” Bryan Athletic Director Chad Savage said.

Football, along with soccer and field hockey, have been determined to be high-contact sports and still need approval from Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine for school-vs.-school competition. The OHSAA said Friday it continues to work with the governor’s office and the Ohio Department of Health toward modified protocols for those three sports to have contests during the coronavirus pandemic.

The NWOAL took its established league schedule for each team and moved weeks 5-10 to 1-6. Each team’s original league opener — scheduled for Week 4 — was moved to a Week 9 contest on Oct. 23.

The OHSAA playoffs are set to begin Oct. 9, and if NWOAL schools are still in the playoffs on Oct. 23, a league makeup game would be scheduled for Oct. 30.

Each NWOAL school has three home and three away games in their first six league contests.

“That was a priority going in and also to try to keep as much of the established schedule that we had in the works already,” Savage said.

If high school football games are approved by DeWine, Bryan would open its season at defending co-NWOAL champion Archbold on Aug. 28.

“At least we know the path now and we can see something coming up in the near future,” Bryan football coach Grant Redhead said. “Before, it was start practice, we don’t know if we’re going to have a season or if we’re not or what they’re going to do. Now at least, we’re moving forward, we’re in week two of practice and we have an opponent we can start preparing for.

“We know it’s going to be Archbold; that’s who our first week (opponent) is. We’re going to get ready.”

Bryan’s schedule includes away games at Delta on Sept. 4 and Evergreen on Sept. 25. Home contests include Patrick Henry on Sept. 11, Liberty Center on Sept. 18 and Swanton on Oct. 2. Bryan is also scheduled to host Wauseon on Oct. 23.

The revised schedule means Bryan’s nonleague contests, including its traditional season opener against Van Wert and a matchup against Fairview, were wiped out.

However, the OHSAA’s adjustments allows teams to schedule up to 10 regular-season contests as long as the games were completed by Nov. 14.

Redhead said he hopes the Golden Bears will get a chance to take on their nonleague rivals.

“Hopefully we can get Fairview and Van Wert back. We’ve had a longstanding running rivalry with Van Wert, 91 years or something,” Redhead said. “Hopefully we can get it back, but league comes first and that’s something I learned when I moved here.”

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