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Altoona, Hollidaysburg football postponed

The Mid-Penn Conference announced Monday that in response to the delay of school start-ups by many of its school districts, the league has designated Sept. 4 as the earliest date to begin formal fall sports practices by all of its members.

The decision impacts District 6 teams Altoona, State College and Mifflin County and means the Mountain Lions’ season opener in high school football against Hollidaysburg scheduled for Aug. 28 has been postponed.

“The Mid-Penn today voted to delay the start of the season with the first practice being Sept. 4 and the first game date being Sept. 25,” Altoona athletic director Phil Riccio said.

High school football teams must complete three weeks of practice before playing regular season games due to PIAA rules. Other fall non-contact sports like golf and tennis do not have three-week practice requirements prior to playing games.

Hollidaysburg athletic director and high school football coach Homer DeLattre is hoping the annual rivalry game can be rescheduled. The Golden Tigers may lose several games, including Altoona, Mifflin County and State College, off their schedule this season due to playing an independent slate and against several teams from out of the state.

“It’s my job to try and find some games to play for our guys,” DeLattre said. “Phil and I have a great relationship. (Altoona football coach) Vince (Nedimyer Jr.) and I have a great relationship, and we’re going to do everything we can to play that game at some point in time, whether it’s September, October or Thanksgiving Day, which would be cool. I don’t know. I don’t care when, but we’ll do everything we can to make it happen.”

Riccio, who said he won’t know how the revised Altoona football schedule will look until next week at the earliest, also expressed interest in rescheduling the game against Hollidaysburg.

“Homer and I have talked numerous times today about the prospect of working out some things,” Riccio said. “We’re willing to work outside the box, and we’re doing everything we can to keep that going.”

Riccio also said even when Altoona’s revised schedule is finalized, it’s likely it could change again.

“I think you’re going to run into this as the whole year goes on,” Riccio said. “No matter when the start date is, you’re going to run into a team most likely that has a COVID issue that leads to a quick schedule change because of it. You also may have schools in the next couple weeks decide they are going to go virtual and not decide to play, so things are ever changing. You have to adapt and overcome, and it’s going to affect everybody at some point. At the end of the day, it’s about keeping the kids safe and give them as many opportunities as we can to let them compete.”

Altoona has been conducting offseason informal football workouts for weeks and those will be allowed to continue.

“I feel for the kids,” Nedimyer said. “I just hope that when Sept. 4 gets here that we are able to start. I know we’re not the only team in the area or the state that has been working out, and I feel for the whole team, especially the seniors. We have 24 seniors who have been busting their butts and doing everything we ask. They are hungry to play and be better than we were last year, and I hope they get their opportunity.”

Nedimyer is hoping one of those opportunities is against the Golden Tigers.

“It would be great for the community and our kids especially,” Nedimyer said. “To be able to play that game each year is something special. I coached for Homer there two years, and I know he wants the game as well and understands what it means to the kids and the community. I know they’ll do whatever they can to make it happen somehow and give these kids an opportunity to play against each other.”

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