BY ANDREAS BUTLER
School is back after much anticipation and so is high school football.
Most football teams are practicing while a few are already playing games. Local public schools are set to play the first game of the regular season next week on Sept. 17 or Sept. 18.
The season was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic concerns. Teams have even had players and coaches contract the virus which have halted activities.
DeLand High had to quarantine about 20 players last week for at least 14 days. They can’t return to the field until Sept. 16. The Bulldogs game against Sanford Seminole for Sept. 18 has been canceled.
Ready to play
Despite this incident and other delays, coaches and players are upbeat and ready to play.
“We’re pretty optimistic and ready to go. I know the guys are ready to be playing,” said Patrick Brown, Seabreeze’s head football coach.
“All sports are ready to go whether football, basketball track or whatever. We have a big senior class. All the kids are eager to play, especially the seniors.”
A few of the small local private schools have already began playing games. Halifax Academy in Daytona Beach and Trinity Christian Academy in Deltona both had their season openers on Sept. 4.
The Trinity Eagles took down Lecanto Seven Rivers Academy 14-2 at home while the Halifax Knights fell at home to Jacksonville Eagle’s View 48-0.
“We lost the game but were able to figure out the things that we need to work on and get better. The players, coaches and entire school is excited to be back out there playing again,” said Matt Timmons, Halifax Academy’s head coach.
Back on schedule
The Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) allowed schools to start contact practices (padded) on Aug. 24. The Volusia County school district delayed it until Sept. 3.
“We basically cut down on contact days and tried to get our schedule going early. That is while we’re playing now. It also helps for us trying to make the playoffs,” said Timmons.
Trinity and Halifax also play games this week. The Eagles (1-0) hosts the First Academy Eagles (0-0) from Leesburg on Sept. 11.
Halifax (0-1) hits the road to face the Bronson Eagles (1-0) that same night.
“We’ll be ready to go,” said Timmons. “We’re working hard keeping to get ready to play. We’re also working hard to keep everyone safe.”
Safety protocols have been implemented which include coaches and players wearing masks, players using their own water bottles, daily temperature checks, limiting workout groups and more.
“We are working very hard with all the non-contact protocols including the COVID-19 protocols. Keeping everyone healthy is our main concern and challenge. We’re optimistic that everything will work out,” said Timmons.
“Safety is first. I also think for the most part the amount of days as far as the acclimation period and amount of full contact practices is a challenge,” said Brown.
“We had shorter workouts in the summer and dealt with soft tissue injuries. We just have to be able to adjust on the fly.”
Also, the season will be shorter for most of the local public schools due to the coronavirus pandemic delaying the start of the season and the need for less travel.
Most schools won’t play the usual 10-game schedule but will have a seven or eight-game season.
“It’s a matter of having a bye week. We had a choice of having a bye. Some schools are having a bye, but we won’t. We will play an entire eight game schedule with no bye instead,” Brown added.