Wheatland High’s James Doran hands the ball to Jordan Alvis during a game against Sutter last season at Wayne Gadberry Field in Sutter.

 Editor’s Note: In a normal year it would be time for spring football camps to be gearing up around the area. This year, however; due to the ongoing public health crisis surrounding coronavirus, many teams are still uncertain about when they can begin working out, and if there will even be a high school football season. When, and if you find out, the fate of your camp and prep football season please reach out to Jeff Larson at 749-4786 and jlarson@appealdemocrat.com. We’re also profiling high school athletes’ home workout regimens during the pandemic. If you’re an athlete who wants to be featured please reach out. 

The Wheatland High football team is the latest example of a program returning from home isolation back onto the gridiron for some semblance of normalcy during a time when uncertainty seems to grab many daily headlines. 

Pirates head coach Larry Hulen said although it’s good to be back into a routine of offseason spring activity – albeit a little later than usual – the team’s regimen is limited due to the ongoing public health crisis surrounding COVID-19. 

“Yuba County’s (health) guidelines are essentially copied into practice,” Hulen said. “We’re on the field, but we don’t run plays. Most of the field work is conditioning.” 

The conditioning is limited to groups of 10 spread out – nine players and one coach – with temperature checks before anybody steps on the field, Hulen said. There’s also 20 seconds of hand washing required, in addition to a COVID questionnaire delivered by an area nurse that Hulen said must be followed daily. 

Hulen said the questions all pertain to the virus as a way to screen each of the players and coaches before each workout. 

“The (county) guidelines said only to screen so it was up to our discretion how to screen them,” Hulen said. 

Hulen also helped implement a form of contact tracing as a way to trace daily movements of his players if any should contract COVID down the line. 

“We’re doing the best we can with what they allow us to do,” said Hulen, whose team finished 6-5 last year, falling in the quarterfinals of the Northern Section Division III playoffs to West Valley. “We needed to get them off the couch and moving. They’re 16 and were not doing anything. It’s good to get them around other humans in the safest environment possible.” 

Hulen called this one of the initial steps to reopening, with any subsequent movements dictated in part by Wheatland Unified School District. 

“As restrictions loosen we’ll able to open up,” he said. 

The morning routine is strictly workout conditioning; the players learn the playbook in the evenings via a tele-conference meeting, Hulen said. 

“We’re doing as much as we can within the legal guidelines and keeping kids safe,” he said. 

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