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Hampton Roads returns to the gridiron

On a different day with a different look, football is back in the 757.

CHESAPEAKE, Va. — The only thing loud enough to drown out the sheets of rain that slowly turned to plops: a brief respite of Bon Jovi blasting through the stadium speakers at Hickory High School in Chesapeake. The noise engulfing a crowd with administrators mulling about gently testing the field with their loafers. 

It's only fitting that there was one more obstacle to overcome as Hampton Roads tries to get back on the high school football field. A little bit of rain seems like a mere puddle compared to the ocean of challenges that have come since local schools last played a game in December of 2019. 

That Hickory vs. Oscar Smith High School game was postponed. What's one more day after more than a calendar year? The postponing meant 250 fans would have to wait another day to watch their Hickory Hawks. 

Fans of teams in the Eastern District will need to wait a bit longer. 

"We're not gonna have fans, we decided that as a district unanimously. We know it's important, but we want to get our plan in place and get that first game under our belt and then we'll evaluate as the season moves on," said Stephen Suttmiller, Public Schools Senior Athletics Coordinator. 

"Only home cheerleaders socially distanced in the stands, and no bands."

The Southeastern District will be slightly more lenient. 

"Two guests per player, which includes band and cheerleaders," said Chesapeake Supervisor of Student Activities Kevin Cole.

The districts align on most other precautions: no pregame coin tosses or postgame handshakes, extended sidelines for social distancing, and of course masks, masks, and more masks for every participant not actively participating in the activity.