The administration at Helias High School thought it had a couple of weeks to finalize plans for attendance at home football games.
However, the clock sped up Tuesday when the school announced it had scheduled Lutheran: St. Charles High School for a game at Ray Hentges Stadium to replace Friday night’s scheduled contest at Hannibal that was called off due to COVID-19 concerns.
“We are going to do our best to make sure it’s as enjoyable an experience as possible for everyone,” Helias activities Director Tom Guinn said.
Admission to the game will be limited, as it will for all school events this fall.
In football, each Helias player has been issued eight “player cards” to be given to people to attend the game. The number of cards issued to players depends on the sport and the size of its home facility.
“But that doesn’t mean they get to invite that many to every game,” Guinn said.
The school will use Cole County Health Department current COVID-19 cases as a guideline for total attendance.
“If the number are high, there will be a lower number of cards accepted for admission,” Guinn said. “If the numbers are low, it could be as many as eight.
“It all depends on current community outbreak.”
Football games also feature the band, dance team and cheer squads. They also will receive the cards.
“We have to take into account those as well for this Friday,” Guinn said. “When you schedule a game at the last minute like this one, the band wasn’t expecting to perform, dance wasn’t expecting to perform. We’re still waiting to see if they will be performing Friday.”
Helias will make a final determination on the number of player cards for Friday night’s game, but it is expected to be somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. That number will be decided today.
The player card is not a ticket, it only allows you the opportunity to purchase one at the admission gate Friday night.
There will be three gates open Friday night. Helias fans should enter through the main gate or the gate by the Crusader locker room. Visiting fans can only use their issued player cards at the visiting gate near the visiting team locker room. No one will be admitted through the gate near the scoreboard.
Fans will be required to wear a mask to be admitted.
“If not, they will not be allowed to enter,” Guinn said.
Once at their seats, fans can take off the masks. However, masks will be required for movement throughout the stadium. Concessions will be limited at games this season to pre-packaged goods such as bottled water and soda, chips and candy.
“If you’re going to the concessions walking to and from your seats, you will need to have a mask on,” Guinn said. “In your seats next to your family, you don’t need to have it on.”
Bigger groups of people in the stands will not be allowed.
“We want people to social distance wherever possible,” Guinn said.
Helias administrators will be walking through the stadium Friday night, encouraging fans to follow the rules.
“We know we can’t possibly police everything in the stands with full effectiveness,” Guinn said. “If we see someone not following guidelines, we will have a conversation with them. We will do everything we can to make sure the guidelines are being followed.
“If someone gets extremely belligerent about it, we will ask them to leave,” he added. “There’s too much at stake, look at everything we’re going through to have a football game. Whether a person believes in wearing a mask or not, this is what we’re expecting them to do if you want to have kids on the field.”
Friday night will be the first of five scheduled home football games for Helias.
“We should learn a lot Friday night and hopefully when we host our second game, we will make adjustments if we need to make them,” Guinn said.
Game time is at 7 p.m. For fans unable to attend the game, it will be livestreamed on the Helias Catholic Football Facebook page.