Football Team Plays On Despite Season Cancellation


Zachary Pippen

Willie Wallace (left) senior business major, Andrew Lee (right), sophomore government, law and national security major, practice stances and starts as wide receiver and cornerback, working on quick feet and fast hands.

Zachary Pippen, Reporter

Football is down but not out.

There may be no games played this fall, but the team’s players are practicing for improvement–both on and off the field.

The NCAA permits 114 days of on-field practices with specific guidelines, but forbids full team practices as a result of COVID-19. This means players will have an allotted time to be in the locker room before and after practice and workouts  in an effort to maintain distancing. Players must also wear masks and or face shields that will be attached to their helmets during practice.

Players are required to complete their Live Safe survey and receive the green check before continuing into the field house. Coaches and trainers will also conduct temperature checks to make sure players show no symptoms.

Players said they were all eager to get back on the field. Once the Anderson Center opened, the gym was filled to capacity so they could begin their workouts for practices.

The season cancellation provided an opportunity for young or new players to learn the offense and defense.

“This time gives us to prepare as a team and build up chemistry between each other,” said Zach Orzell, senior healthcare management Pre-DPT major.

This time also gives players a chance to focus on schoolwork and learn to manage their time.

“I want to make sure I have a list of things to do every day and time slots to do them,” said Orzell.

Head coach Mark Ross said it’s a good time for the team to learn the new protocols.

“It is on the players to be accountable for themselves off the field,” said Ross, “listening to regulations, wearing masks and social distancing. The protocols aren’t going away anytime soon.”

Since the state set a maximum number of people permitted one building at one time, a sign-up policy makes the trainer’s room at Metz Field House less crowded before and after practices. Ross pointed out that this could be good for the trainers’ workload.

Coaches also had to figure out how to organize the locker room.

“Coaches have to be cognizant on how many people are in the locker room at a time,” said Ross.

Logan Baxter, left, uses a rip technique to get around the pass set by Matt Carter, right.
(Zachary Pippen)

Players said it will be hard to break their habits, but they plan to follow all guidelines so they can remain together for as long as possible.

“We see every week that we are here as a win,” said Aaron Mershman, the team’s offensive coordinator. “The longer that our school and team stays here is more work and more time to build chemistry with the team.”