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The Bluefield offensive line and Graham defensive line prepare for the snap of the ball during the annual Beaver-Graham game August 30, 2019, at Mitchell Stadium. If different restrictions remain in place in West Virginia and Virginia it could be very disruptive to high school athletics as teams on both sides of the state lines play eachother often with short travel and natural rivalries.  

By ERIC WALKER and

CHARLES BOOTHE

BLUEFIELD — The annual Beaver-Graham football game has been postponed, Graham High School Athletic Director Matt Dixon confirmed Friday afternoon.

Following the announcement from West Virginia Governor Jim Justice that high school football games would begin on September 3 instead of the prior week, it eliminated the chance of the game being played August 28.

Graham was scheduled as the home team for this year’s game against Bluefield and both administrations will try to find another suitable date should there be a football season this fall.

Governor Jim Justice announced earlier in the day that high school football games around the state won't start until Thursday, Sept. 3, and restrictions will be in place including limited attendance and a requirement that spectators wear masks.

Bernie Dolan, president of the West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission (WVSSAC), said full practice will start on Aug. 17.

Dolan made the announcement during Gov. Jim Justice’s pandemic briefing this afternoon, adding that spectators will be allowed but masks will be required as well social distancing.

“Attendance may be limited,” he said, but the details are still to be worked out depending on how the pandemic situation develops by the time competition begins.

“Athletics play an important role in all of our lives,” he said. “It’s our role to keep them (athletes) safe.”

How successful it will be depends on the public’s cooperation.

“We know everybody wants athletics,” Dolan said, but everyone will have to do their part.

Dolan said golf competitions can start Aug. 24 and other sports’ games including volleyball, cross country and soccer can begin on Sept. 2.

These dates fit in with the Sept. 8 start of school, he added.

“This is a great opportunity for our kids and our schools to be the center of their communities again and the hub and to drive what goes on in their communities,” he said, adding that all coaches and players, who continue to have limited practices, are “excited to be back.”

Justice said the bottom line is to protect the students and to do that everyone must wear a mask to protect themselves and protect others.

“We are going to protect our kids and all of those working with our kids,” he said, adding how important sports teams are to residents. “They are important to our communities and it brings us together.”

Contact Charles Boothe at cboothe@bdtonline.com.

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