As of Monday, June 8, the varsity football team officially returned to Heritage field for conditioning work in small groups for the first time since the Coronavirus outbreak. With the risk of the virus still looming, administration adhered to mandatory precautions, as part of Phase 1 requirements as well as guidelines given by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), local authorities and NFHS (National Federation of State High School Associations).
“It felt really good [to be out there] because the kids were eager to get back,” Coach Patrick Surtain said. “But at the same time we have to be mindful of the circumstances that we are faced with and realize that there’s nothing more important than the health of our student athletes. That takes precedence over everything.”
The small group conditioning splits up as follows: every Monday through Friday, the offense takes the field at 8 A.M. and the defense follows at 11 A.M.. Each group splits up further into three smaller groups of nine, nine and 10 and rotates through conditioning, individual instruction drills, and lifting in the weight room.
“We eased our way back into things today, and I’d say it went really well,” sophomore linebacker David Vadala said following the first day back. “It felt great to get back into the swing of things and get back to football and our family.”
For some Patriots, though, the difficulty of the conditioning may have varied, depending on how active athletes were able to stay over quarantine.
“I had been running and working out during the lockdown so it was a little bit easier for me and everyone else who had been active during the lockdown,” senior wide receiver Oronde Gadsden said.
As of now, the return of normal practice currently remains unknown as administration awaits government guidelines in regards to how to approach the situation. Coach Surtain and his team, though, have adapted to try and make the best of what they can do.
“It actually worked out well for us because we started exactly when we would have started if things were normal,” Coach Surtain said in regards to the team’s return. “We’re going to keep our regular regiment; the only thing is we are going to do it in smaller groups. The first two weeks have gone pretty smoothly. We’re just going to wait on the FHSAA to give us the green light to resume team activities; until then, we’re going to stick to our normal routine.”
For the time being, the Patriots will continue to put in work as they vie for another state title.
“Our expectations are always winning a state championship, so we’re going to take that attitude even starting with these workouts,” Vadala said.
The Patriots are scheduled to open up the season on the road versus Dillard, Aug. 14.