Prep Football

New reality begins as prep teams head to practice

on Friday, Nov. 8, 2019. | H-W Photo/Jake Shane
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By Herald-Whig
Posted: Aug. 9, 2020 12:01 am

QUINCY -- The alarms set to ring early Monday morning will signal a new day, a new season and a new hope.

What happens shortly thereafter will be a reminder of a new reality.

Fall sports teams in Illinois and Missouri -- at least those cleared to play -- are allowed to begin practice. The first official high school competitive events to be played happen three days later, suggesting some sort of normalcy is returning.

Nothing these student-athletes or coaches will be doing is normal.

Because of the novel coronavirus pandemic and restrictions implemented by each state's athletic governing bodies and local health officials, coaches have had to adapt their practice times, schedules and routines. There will be limited spectator access, fewer scrimmages or jamborees and more precautions than ever before.

That begins the moment athletes arrive as they will have their temperatures checked and be questioned about their health and any symptoms they might be experiencing.

"We're doing what we need to do to be safe and follow all the guidelines to get practices in," Monroe City football coach David Kirby said.

Missouri high schools are among the few forging ahead with a football season. Illinois has postponed football until the spring, as have the Great Lakes Valley Conference and Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association, both of which have colleges in Illinois and Missouri.

The Heart of America Athletic Conference, of which Culver-Stockton College is a member, also is planning for a fall football season, but won't start practicing until next week.

So Missouri becomes the test case to see how things develop or progress the first week.

"We're blessed to have it," Palmyra football coach Kevin Miles said.

It's generated some excitement.

"As resilient as kids are, they like to do a lot of things," Kirby said. "When stuff gets taken away, they feel sad and upset. All of a sudden, you get to come back and play again. It relieves some of that stress. Man, they're tickled to death."

The coaches are a little more stressed because of the tweaking of the schedules and the day-to-day uncertainty, but they insist they will adapt.

"As we're going through practice schedules and what we're going to do the first day of practice, we've never handed out equipment day one," Miles said. "That's been done during the summer because of camps and our typical schedule. Now we have to work that into our practice schedule.

"Since we have to change our watering systems, you have to figure out that. So there is a lot of fine-tuning of the plans going on. You want to make it all work and still get things accomplished in the time that we have."

For some, it fits their practice plan better than most.

"The way we've done things over the past few years is we've had smaller groups and we're constantly moving," Kirby said. "So that's allowed us to plan what we need to do as far as the distancing of the coaches and the players. So we're setting our practice plan somewhat similar.

"We're making sure we're getting breaks in, moving from group to group and taking precautions."

The same thing will be happening at practices for soccer, softball, volleyball and the myriad of fall sports expecting to be contested.

It's a new season with new hope, but that's the new reality.