Editor’s Note: Today is the second of a two-part series chronicling the return of Yuba College sports during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you’re a Yuba College coach making plans for sports amid a pandemic please reach out to Appeal Sports Editor Jeff Larson at email@example.com.
Yuba College football resumed practice this week with a lot of running and conditioning work, at times resembling a college track and field team.
The 49ers are working out as a unit twice a week for now until given further guidance from the county and Yuba Community College District in light of the ongoing public health crisis surrounding COVID-19.
“We can’t do anything with a ball,” Yuba College head coach Mick Pettengill said. “As a department we’re doing what the district has told us what to do.”
Earlier this year, the California Community College Athletic Association Board of Directors voted to reinstate fall sports, including football beginning in January 2021. All schedules will have a 30 percent reduction, which for football means a 10-game season with one additional scrimmage all scheduled to be completed by April 17, according to Appeal archives.
Pettengill said right now he’s focused on phase one, which equates to a delayed version of summer conditioning with the added element of keeping each one of his athletes healthy and COVID free.
“We have a health screening before every workout that includes a temperature check, a couple (COVID-related) questions … It takes about 15 minutes to complete for each athlete,” Pettengill said.
On Monday this week, he said Yuba College had 35 players come out for football conditioning.
He works his players heavily on strength and conditioning, because in this day and age of uptempo offenses, teams need to be in shape.
“We’re getting our lungs back,” he said.
He encourages each of his players to do 100 pushups, 100 sit ups and 100 dips daily as a way to prepare for the scheduled 2021 campaign.
There’s not much else that the team is allowed to do right now, without contact or football-related activity permitted on campus, Pettengill said.
While Yuba College gets a few locals every year, the program also attracts many from out of state, who have had the unfortunate task of being away from their families this year during the pandemic.
Malik Mullins and Roger Barrancos traveled from Virginia to play for the 49ers. When COVID struck back in March, there were a few personal issues that transpired and forced Mullins to travel home during the pandemic.
“I wanted to get my mind right,” said Mullins, a sophomore wideout for Yuba. “This is a whole new experience and I’m not sure what to expect.”
Mullins ran track last year for the 49ers and hopes to make his mark on the football team starting in January.
He knows once the season begins it’s going to be a challenge for many reasons and expects a few more bumps and bruises early on with the lack of full contact prep time available due to COVID.
Roger Barrancos, also from Virgina where he played for the famed T.C. Williams High School, which was featured in the movie “Remember the Titans” years ago, said he has treated the pandemic as an extended training session where he can delicately and methodically get his body in pristine condition for the eventual season.
“I want to be an athletic lineman so I’m running two miles a day – the first in about 9-10 minutes – and total in 17-18 minutes,” he said. “I am doing arms Monday and Wednesday; legs Tuesday and Thursday; and Friday is a straight core (workout).”
Barrancos said the moment that the pandemic forced a delay in the 2020 season, he retrained his mind in order to properly get ready for competition.
“I switched the seasons up, right now it’s summer,” he said. “I trained my mind and shifted the calendar.”
While there are obstacles during the process of navigating through COVID-19, he said he has an extended family in Yuba County to help him through life these days.
“We’re a family,” Barrancos said of his Yuba College teammates. “They make me feel right at home out here, they’re my brothers.”