FORT MITCHELL, Ky. — Beechwood football coach Noel Rash became teary-eyed when he discussed the return of the high school football season this week.
"It means the world to me that we're getting to do this," Rash said.
After months of discussion during the COVID-19 pandemic, football will be the final Kentucky High School Athletic Association fall sport to return this week after the season was delayed from its normal August start time.
Cross country, field hockey, soccer and volleyball officially start their seasons around the state today.
"It is very exciting to have our kids playing all fall sports beginning this week," said Simon Kenton athletic director Jeff Marksberry, who is also the school's head football coach. "I am happy they are getting the opportunity."
Most Kentucky high school football teams continued to practice for the past four weeks after seeing their season get delayed due to the pandemic.
While the Ohio high school football season enters its third week, the KHSAA board of control voted 16-2 on Aug. 20 to uphold a decision for the starting dates that it decided on in July.
"The feedback we're getting is kind of half mixed between total excitement and trepidation," Kentucky High School Athletic Association commissioner Julian Tackett said.
"Nobody really is sure of everything they're doing. One of the things we did in our guidance from moment one was recommend kind of phasing things in. Let's don't start trying to be ready for the end of the year -- whether it's coaching, whether it's setting up games. Let's try things, let's experiment a little bit because they may work differently."
Listen: KHSAA Commissioner Julian Tackett joined the High School Insider podcast to discuss fall sports.
However, not every Northern Kentucky football team will start this week.
Lloyd Memorial High School will remain in the Kentucky High School Athletic Association Segment 3 guidelines for conditioning and skill training and will not compete this week, according to Erlanger-Elsmere Schools Superintendent Chad Molley.
Molley said volleyball and cross country are also under the same district guidelines and will not compete this week.
Still, for those Northern Kentucky athletics programs going forward, they are ready for the opportunity.
Simon Kenton will open its season at Highlands on Friday night (7 p.m. kickoff).
"Our football kids are really excited about opening the season at Highlands," Marksberry said. "It is a great test for us and it will give us a chance to see where we need to improve."
Beechwood will play at Corbin in a highly anticipated showdown Friday night (7:30 p.m.). Rash can't wait.
"I want this thing to go so well for the whole state and for Julian (Tackett) because he is busting his butt -- he really has," Rash said. "You just want to make sure three weeks from now we are still playing, and it's becoming more and more normal for a lack of a better way of saying it. I'm just hoping it all plays out well. I believe that it will."