The month of May is typically when spring football camps get going throughout the area, marking the first step toward a brand new high school football season.
But 2020 is not a normal year, due in part to the ongoing health crisis surrounding coronavirus. A few area schools have kicked off spring football while undergoing strict local health guidelines like social distancing, a clean work space and limited numbers involved in the workout sessions. Other schools, most notably ones in the Sac-Joaquin Section are collectively still waiting for more guidance from local and state authorities as to how to proceed with the dawning of spring ball and the regular season. We reached out to a few schools Tuesday, while waiting to hear from a few more as to how they will proceed with the upcoming prep football campaign.
LINDHURST HIGH BLAZERS
Head football coach Hark Dulai said Lindhurst has not kicked off any traditional spring football practices yet. His players are continuing to workout at home during the school shutdown, which has stretched to about 2-½ months.
Dulai said he is utilizing an online app, sending daily workouts to his players.
The overall production of the workouts remains to be determined.
“It’s easy for them to say they’re doing (the workouts), but we have to see results,” Dulai said.
Dulai said the Sac-Joaquin is meeting later this week to further discuss guidelines surrounding the beginning of the football season.
He does have a few concerns right now with how everything is going to come to focus this fall when games are supposed to be played.
“I don’t see the opening of school with social distancing and (playing) football,” Dulai said. “I’m hoping I am wrong.”
YUBA CITY HONKERS
Given the fact that Yuba City is in the Sac-Joaquin Section, scheduled against a plethora of Sacramento-area teams each year, head coach Aaron Gingery said it’s difficult to gauge when his team can begin regular workouts while staying compliant with local and state public health guidelines surrounding COVID-19.
Right now, Gingery said he is in communication with his team almost daily.
He uses tele-conferencing meetings, as well as social media applications to receive and share workout videos amongst his team.
“Every Monday I send a workout for the week and throughout the week they share the videos,” Gingery said. “Our kids are doing an amazing job. They’re making something out of a bad situation.”
The benefit of sharing the videos, Gingery said, is simple motivation while stuck at home.
“(The benefit is) ‘I’m sitting home working, I wonder what the other 44 are doing?’ Are they working out as hard as me?’ Gingery said.
Last year Yuba City finished in a three-way tie for second in the Capital Valley Conference at 7-5 and advanced to the quarterfinals of the Division III playoffs.
The defending Northern Section Division III Sutter football team began spring football workouts last week, adhering to the section guidelines of 10 practices over a two-week span.
“We will be wrapping up workouts this week,” said Rick Giovannoni, assistant principal/athletic director in a statement. “We have also been following the Sutter County health guidelines/recommendations of small groups (of) no more than 10. We have accomplished this by separating the groups out into different time slots.
Giovannoni said the groups must remain a minimum of six feet apart to achieve proper social distancing in public spaces.
As for the start to the season, Giovannoni said a timeline is still being worked out.
“We do have a Board of Managers meeting for the Northern Section tomorrow (Wednesday, May 20) so maybe we will receive some information there,” he said.
Sutter, winners of five of the last six titles, is scheduled to open its season Aug. 28 at home against Del Campo (Fair Oaks).
EAST NICOLAUS SPARTANS
East Nicolaus delayed the opening of spring camp by three weeks to June 8 when the team is scheduled to have staggered workouts in the weight room, first year coach Kramer Hagan said Tuesday.
“Each class will work out separately,” Hagan said. “Groups will be spaced out in the weight room (with) no contact for the first two weeks.”
There will be zero on the field contact practices until the end of June or start of July, Hagan said.
In the meantime, Hagan said he is running teleconference meetings three times a week for an hour a day, while his coaches remain in constant contact with each other as well.
Hagan tends to believe that there will be football this fall.
I’m not worried; some sections may start later,” Hagan said. “To me (this fall) would be a 10-game season and section playoffs (only).”
From what he is hearing from other coaches, Hagan said it’s the NorCal regional and state bowl games that could be in jeopardy.
East Nicolaus has advanced to four straight NorCal games and has lost each of them under former coach Travis Barker.
The Spartans won the state championship for small schools in 2015.
With the brutal nature of the pandemic and all that has transpired, Hagan said he is hoping to salvage the year with a regularly-scheduled football season.
“If there is a positive it creates more of a fire for playing football again,” he said. “I have never seen such an eager group ready to get back on the field.”
The Bulldogs are in spring mode as of Monday, May 18, while adhering to local public health guidelines, head coach Matt Kemmis said.
The optional practices run Monday through Friday from 5-7 p.m. for a total of 10 sessions.
“It was a local decision; same rules apply,” Kemmis said. “Normally (spring camp) is a week earlier but we pushed it back a week.”
Kemmis said everyone was extremely pumped to be back on the field.
“I think they were really excited to see their friends, socialize and play,” he said. “The numbers were great, we had more than in years past. It was good to see kids get out and get ready for the football season.”
Camp consists of solely socially distanced weight room sessions where groups of a maximum 10 athletes work out for 20 minutes at each station.
There is never any contact scheduled in spring camp, Kemmis said.