Not all high school football teams are playing the waiting game.
Members of the Midsouth Association of Independent Schools were able to open preseason camp on Monday. For those teams, the 2020 season is still on track to start as scheduled – Aug. 21.
Starkville Academy coach Chase Nicholson was thrilled to be back on the field.
“It’s always great to be coaching football. Our guys worked hard, so it’s been a great week,” Nicholson said.
The Volunteers held two-a-day practices on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, and single practices Wednesday and Friday. They put on full pads Thursday.
Nicholson said his players know the playbook well enough that the coaching staff can focus on establishing the depth chart.
“Right now it’s more about who we are, who’s going to fit where, who’s getting the most reps, who needs more reps, who needs fewer reps,” Nicholson said. “We’re not preparing for anybody yet; we’re preparing to be a team.”
It’s business as usual – except, of course, for all the COVID-19 precautions being taken. Nicholson said it’s not been a big obstacle because his players have been following the guidelines all summer.
“We’re still screening them when they come in the door, temperature checks,” he said. “They file right in and know what to do. …
“They understand that if they don’t do these things, we could easily be back to not playing football, so they’re all on board.”
Oak Hill Academy coach Bill Rosenthal is also used to that routine.
“It’s just things you’ve got to do,” he said.
MHSAA member schools can’t begin preseason practices until Aug. 17, and the season is slated to begin Sept. 3-4. That’s two weeks later than originally scheduled.
And there is no guarantee a season will even happen for MHSAA teams. The same could be said for MAIS schools, but Nicholson is confident the season will be played as scheduled.
Rosenthal tries not to think of the possibility of no football.
“We’re going into it as if we’re playing the 21st, and we will be playing nine games,” he said. “And that’s the only way I know how to approach it. If it gets shut down, it gets shut down. But we’re not even discussing anything getting shut down right now.”