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Knoxville News-Sentinel (Tennessee)
MURFREESBORO - Rutherford County Schools officials have begun putting together a plan in place if Sunday's high school football game featuring Oakland and Blackman on national television gets too hot.
The game, which kicks off at noon (EDT) at The Inferno at Blackman, is being aired on ESPN2. The TSSAA's heat policy will be in effect despite the game being televised.
The TSSAA's heat policy states that if the heat index gets to 105 degrees or higher, all outdoor activity including practice or play is to be stopped. Sunday's forecast calls for a high of 99 degrees. That doesn't include the heat index.
"We've already seen it," Blackman senior Ronnie Killings said. "We know it's supposed to be hot. But I don't think it's going to be too big of a deal."
If it does become a deal, the county wants to have a plan.
"We want people to know ahead of time that we are looking at that," Rutherford County School spokesman James Evans said. "More than likely, we would postpone the game until later that day.
"We are not sure how that would affect ESPN. That would be their call."
Evans said ESPN officials are aware of the TSSAA's heat policy.
Oakland and Blackman re-arranged their schedules with Riverdale and Siegel at the request of ESPN in order to televise the game. A year ago, Beech and Station Camp played in the same time slot on the first Sunday of the season. However, the temperatures never got that hot.
"We'll meet with the officials in charge of the game and tell them to get with the administration at Blackman and identify who they'll need to talk to about measuring the heat index," said Bernard Childress, the TSSAA executive director."
Childress said he's been told that Blackman athletic director Scott Lawless will have a digital psychrometer on the sidelines to check the heat index.
"I have all the faith in the world they'll handle it the right way," Childress said of Blackman.
Evans said likely the hottest temperatures of the day wouldn't be an issue until mid-afternoon.
"With the game starting at 11 (CDT), there is a chance we could miss that," Evans said. "We won't really know until we get there, which is why we are talking about it now."
Blackman coach Philip Shadowens doesn't believe it will end up being an issue.
"It's summertime; it's hot," Shadowens said. "The heat index will probably not hit the level that stops play. We play at 11 o'clock. It will be 90 or 92.
"There will be lots of TV timeouts. There are three per quarter and a three-minute break between quarters. We'll get more timeouts than we're ever used to, even compared to the other (local) TV games we've had. I don't think the weather will be a factor unless the kids begin to cramp."
Childress said he instructed Blackman to make sure both teams use the television timeouts as an opportunity to hydrate and cool players off.