TUPELO, Miss. (WTVA) -- The offseason narrative around football and fall sports was how nice it would be to get back to normal, but the Coronavirus is again impacting fall sports.
On Tuesday, Calhoun City became the first football team to cancel a 2021 regular season game because of an outbreak.
Mississippi High School Athletic and Activities Executive Director Rickey Neaves told the Jackson Clarion-Ledger that schools which go full virtual will not be ineligible to participate in MHSAA sanctioned activities.
Last year was hard for everyone, but according to Tupelo Head Football Coach Ty Hardin, what is making this season more difficult, is that this rise is cases is happening so close to the start of the season.
"Well last year we had a lot of planning time, we planned all summer," Hardin said. "Our coaching staff did a great job, our kids did a great job of understanding what's in front of em."
Coach Hardin and the Tupelo Golden Wave started official practice this week. He said the team is doing whatever the Tupelo school system and the MHSAA is telling them to do, but seeing games getting canceled already is alarming.
"When you look up and you already got teams canceling games, you're just like man I don't want to be that team," Hardin said. "But we can only control what we can control."
Hardin said that he can keep an eye on the team on the field, but off the field, he's relying on senior leadership from players like Deon Shumpert, who is telling his teammates to:
"Stay protected, stay safe, this covid stuff, man, it's nothing to play with," Shumpert said.
Across town at Tupelo Christian Prep, the 1A Eagles don't have the same number of players as the 6A Golden Wave, but Head Coach Shaune Holiday is dusting off the 2020 Coronavirus playbook to ensure his team stays safe.
"It hit home once you see Calhoun City and Houston not playing their first game it becomes reality," Holiday said. "And the kids understand now that this is something serious that this could affect us just as easily as it could them."
TCPS graduated a big senior class last year, seniors who didn't get to have a standard season. This year's seniors like Jake Prather, seeing the rise in cases and news of quarantine is bringing up some bad memories of 2020.
"It really you know, puts the team on edge, not knowing whether we're going to play one week to the next," Prather said. "We missed multiple games last year and it put a hurt on the season."
TCPS will begin its 2021 season on Thursday, August 26th at home against North Pontotoc and Tupelo has a road date with Lafayette on Friday the 27th.