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Offensive lineman Jared Wilson of West Forsyth originally committed to play at Georgia but changed his mind and chose North Carolina, allowing him to stay closer to home.

Jared Wilson's home sheltered four members of his family on the mend. The rising senior offensive tackle for West Forsyth's football team said he even indirectly experienced a few visits to the emergency room. 

The past few weeks were "scary" for Wilson, a college prospect who has announced he'll play at North Carolina. His mother, Allie; two of three younger brothers — Jeremiah, 9, and P.J., 12; and an aunt, Nandi Wagner, tested positive for the coronavirus beginning in late June and were recovering well just days ago. Meanwhile, Wilson wore a mask in their home, washed his hands frequently and kept hand sanitizer nearby. 

According to Wilson, P.J. initially contracted COVID-19 after a football practice. Allie had her brush with the virus tending to her young son, which included a trip to the emergency room. Wilson said Jeremiah was asymptomatic. 

And Wilson's up-close look at the coronavirus outbreak raises a concern — a fear of contracting COVID-19 — if his final football season does come to fruition as a sendoff before enrolling at Carolina in January. And because of the outbreak, the N.C. High School Athletic Association has postponed the official start of fall practices from Aug. 1 until "at least" Sept. 1.

The decision, which presents early challenges, came a day after Gov. Roy Cooper detailed a plan for a hybrid framework of in-person and virtual learning for public schools across the state. 

"I want to play," said Wilson, a three-star prospect by 247Sports.com who tested negative for COVID-19. "But is it safe to play? I don't really know. But, yes. I really do want to play."

Cooper's Phase Two guidelines, which limit outdoor gatherings to 25 people, are in effect through until Aug. 7. But even with the NCHSAA's delay, Commissioner Que Tucker notes in a news release that the new start date is not "in cement" — with potential for future postponements if coronavirus cases continue to rise across the state.

For now, the framework likely cuts out the first four to five football games of the season, with football teams likely not kicking off before late September. It's a concern for Alexis McCoy, the athletics director at Reagan, who said admissions and concession fees at football games are the primary funder for yearly high school sports budgets. 

McCoy estimated Reagan's expenses for the spring season ranged from $10,000 to $15,000, which included up-front costs for field maintenance, equipment and booking officials.

Those are expenses that would likely be replenished through football games, such as the Raiders' non-conference rivalry against Mount Tabor that would've opened the season in Pfafftown on Aug. 21. Reagan also will miss a home game and gate against Hickory and the annual Hammer Bowl rivalry with North Forsyth that dates to 2009.  

Joe McCormick, the Glenn athletics director, said losing early non-conference games has a "substantial" financial impact. He estimated the Bobcats will lose three out of six games — Ledford, Mount Tabor and North Forsyth — at Marty Stanley Stadium in Kernersville.

McCormick, based off a low estimation from last season's admission, hoped Glenn's home opener against the Panthers would gross roughly $13,000 — $3,000 of which would cover expenses. Its matchup against Mount Tabor, traditionally, has ranged from $12,000 to $16,000, and games against programs within Forsyth County are split gates, he said. Last season's game at home against Parkland, Glenn's scheduled opponent on the road Sept. 4, meant a $14,000 gate.

"It's a huge financial impact, especially because you're going off of not having a spring season," McCoy said. "So we started off the spring — I think my baseball team played three games, my softball team had no home games. I could keep going. But I had to prepare for all that to happen.

"So I had already purchased everything to have a successful season and had to pay those bills but never got any income back. So you're starting off the year at a different situation than you would have, if you would've had a spring season."

McCormick mentioned the elevated profile of the football program at Glenn, which finished last season at 9-5 with a third-round appearance in the NCHSAA Class 4-A playoffs. Glenn has two players who announced plans to go to Carolina — defensive end Jahvaree Ritzie and linebacker Raneiria Dillworth. Players such as Albert Redd, a rising junior outside linebacker who announced last week that his first Division I scholarship offer had come from the Tar Heels, are hoping for a season that could enhance their recruitment.

"This is a really big year for me," said Redd, who joined the Bobcats' varsity program as a freshman. "I was hoping it would be one of my breakout seasons. … It's weird, just not being in football right now." 

Fall sports, including football, within Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools, are set to begin limited workouts on Monday — the initial inkling of a restart for high school athletics in the area. Despite the NCHSAA's decision, that remains the plan, according to county athletics director John Sullivan.

Dan Proctor, the North Forsyth boys soccer coach, will replace 12 players who graduated after last season's Western Piedmont Athletic 2-A title victory. He said a glimmer of hope remains for the fall, at least until a final decision is handed down by the NCHSAA. 

Proctor recalled it was "heartbreaking" in the spring to tell his girls soccer players their season was cut short in mid-March after just four games. He knows it could happen again.

"It is in the back of the mind," Proctor said. "I've got another great class of seniors this year on the boys team. Just really good kids."

pferlise@wsjournal.com

@PatrickFerlise

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