By Bill Spinks

After an interminable five-week wait, practices for Midlothian High School sports teams will finally get underway on Monday.

In July, the University Interscholastic League reacted to a surge in COVID-19 cases in the state of Texas by splitting fall sports schedules based on the size of schools. While schools in Class 4A and below were allowed to start their seasons on schedule with their practices starting Aug. 3, Class 5A and 6A schools — including MHS — were prohibited from opening practice before Sept. 7.

The UIL acted to stagger the fall schedules after a number of county health authorities across the state ordered a postponement of extracurricular activities at schools within their counties. Since the UIL’s announcement, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton stepped in with a legal opinion that only local school boards may decide whether to postpone activities.

The fall sports affected are football, volleyball, cross country, golf and team tennis.

The Panthers will begin the 2020 football season on Friday, Sept. 25 at MISD Multipurpose Stadium against Fort Worth Brewer. The MISD athletic department has announced a ticket policy that is available on its website.

All MISD varsity football games this year will be broadcast online on NFHS Network after the UIL, for the first time, dropped its ban on live Friday night video broadcasts for fans unable to attend games.

The Lady Panther volleyball team, meanwhile, will start their season on Friday, Sept. 11 at home with a scrimmage against Granbury. They will follow with scrimmages at Frisco Reedy on the morning of Sept. 12 against Reedy, Rockwall and Plano Prestonwood Christian. The first official match of the season will be Tuesday, Sept. 15 at Frisco Heritage.

The cross country Panthers will get their first action of the season on Sept. 11 in the Gerald Richey Invitational at the Jesse Owens Memorial Complex in Dallas, site of the Class 5A Region II championships on Nov. 9. They will host the James Smith Invitational on Sept. 16 at MISD Multipurpose Stadium. MHS will also be hosting the District 14-5A meet on Oct. 28.

MHS has not yet announced its fall team tennis and golf schedules.