Fewer games, no traditional post-season tournaments, lots of safety protocols, and a chance that it could all end quickly.

But for high school athletes in Ridgefield and throughout the state, being able to play again is what matters.

More than six months after the COVID-19 pandemic abruptly ended the 2019-20 school year, high school sports return to Connecticut today. Seven fall sports (boys and girls soccer, field hockey, girls swimming, girls volleyball, and boys and girls cross country) that are classified as either low or moderate risk (for COVID-19 transmission) are back, although girls volleyball players will need to wear masks while playing indoors.

Football, classified as high risk, wasn’t as fortunate. Following several weeks of uncertainty and mixed messages, the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference decided not to sanction the traditional version of the sport (11-on-11, full contact) in 2020. The CIAC did announce this week that it is planning an “alternate season” which will run March 19-April 17 and include traditional football, as well as any fall or winter sport that doesn’t complete at least 40% of its season.

Following the CIAC’s decision — which came after the state department of health recommended against playing football this fall — the Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference and several other Connecticut leagues approved proposals to play 7-on-7, non-contact games and have strength challenges (see related story). The Ridgefield football team has its first strength challenge and 7-on-7 game this Friday night (5:30) against Wilton at Tiger Hollow.

To reduce travel and limit possible COVID-19 exposure, the FCIAC has split its 16 teams into three geographic pods (East, Central and West). Ridgefield is in the Central pod along with Wilton, Staples, Danbury, Brien McMahon, and Norwalk.

In boys and girls soccer, field hockey, and girls volleyball, Ridgefield plays 10 regular-season games — two apiece (home and home) against each of the other five schools in the Central pod. The Ridgefield girls swim team has six meets, and the Ridgefield boys and girls cross country teams each have five meets.

The Ridgefield field hockey, girls soccer, girls volleyball, and boys and girls cross country teams all open the regular-season today on the road against Wilton at 4:30 p.m. The Ridgefield girls swim team has its first meet today (4:30) against Staples at the Barlow Mountain pool.

The Ridgefield boys soccer team plays its season opener on Friday (4:30) at Wilton.

Each team will have two post-season games, which the CIAC is describing as a “tournament experience.” Although specific details have not been announced, the post-season won’t include state tournaments.