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Non-Public Group 4 State Championship Game. Don Bosco Prep (white) vs. St. Peter's Prep (brown). Don Bosco Prep # 12 Jake RobbinsBuy Photo

Non-Public Group 4 State Championship Game. Don Bosco Prep (white) vs. St. Peter’s Prep (brown). Don Bosco Prep # 12 Jake Robbins

 (Photo: Viorel Florescu / NorthJersey.com)

Whether they’ll be facing a first-and-10 or a third-and-long, New Jersey’s high school football coaches are working together on a game plan to prepare for a fall season.

The executive committee of the New Jersey Football Coaches Association, working in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, Thursday night introduced three potential starting dates for when players and coaches can meet to prepare for the 2020 season.

The first and most optimistic recommended start date, suggested during the NJFCA online meeting, is Aug. 1. That would keep the preseason and regular season on schedule, allowing teams with late-August games to open as planned.

The second date is Aug. 17, which would eliminate those August openers, said Rich Hansen, a member of the executive committee.

The third date would be Sept. 1, which Hansen said delays season openers until Sept. 24.

St. Peter's Prep coach Rich Hansen addresses his team after a recent practice in Jersey City.

St. Peter’s Prep coach Rich Hansen addresses his team after a recent practice in Jersey City.

 (Photo: Darren Cooper)

“The governor’s office, through the Department of Health and Department of Education, are going to drive the bus on this,” said Hansen, coach and athletic director at St. Peter’s Prep.

“We just want to be as prepared as possible to follow the guidelines they set forth, whenever that happens.”

Hansen, who also serves as president of the North Jersey Super Football Conference, said coaches have been working on multiple scenarios “for about a month,” and that the executive committee has sought insight from league presidents from around the Garden State.

“We’ve tried to get everybody’s opinion and everybody’s input and try to come up with dates that make sense,” Hansen said. “Obviously the most important component to all this is the safety of the kids and the coaches. But a lot of it is beyond our control and that’s what makes it so hard.”

“I’m happy to see that we’re trying to brainstorm and come up with some ideas and at least put a plan together and have different options,” said Don Bosco coach Dan Sabella. “That’s the smart way to go, and it’s good to see the leadership, and a lot of guys, getting involved with doing that.”

Gov. Murphy announced Monday that schools will remain closed through the rest of this school year, ending hopes for a spring sports season. So the focus turns to summer practices and a fall season that also includes boys and girls soccer.

Hansen emphasized that the NJFCA plans are “proactive” recommendations to be considered by the state’s governing athletic organization, the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association.

“We just wanted to give the state some options, pending the governor’s decision and the Department of Education’s decision in the…

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