Online Originals: High School football returns to eastern North Carolina

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PITT COUNTY, N.C. (WNCT) High School athletes are back on the field this week after their long coronavirus break.

Training programs began on Monday for high school football players with many changes because of the coronavirus.

“Unlike regular practice and stuff, we are having to split kids up in pods. We have been inside this week so we are using the big gym, the auxiliary gym, and the locker room,” said Todd Lipe, Ayden-Grifton Head Coach. “We are going from station to station and trying to do social distancing.”

High schools are finding new ways to get their players in shape while keeping them safe.

“Right now we are not allowed in the weight room. We have had to move our equipment outside,” said Will Bland, J.H. Rose Head Coach.

“Everything they touch we have to clean off,” said Lipe. “We are just trying to follow guidelines so that we can keep doing what we are doing.”

Despite the changes, local teams are all on the same page– united in learning, building and coping.

“We are all working through this together. We all want to get to see each other compete because we love sports,” said Nate Conner, D.H. Conley Head Coach. “I think it’s very positive and I think from a community perspective what’s good is there’s some hope in the future.”

Over at the Hollywood Crossroads, the D.H. Conley Vikings are one of the many eastern North Carolina teams embracing the grind.

“You know, the boys are looking great! We are very proud of how they’ve been doing. Their commitment level shows every day by doing what we need them to do,” said Conner.

Meanwhile, first-year head coach, Will Bland, is ready to lead the J.H. Rose Rampants.

“We are looking forward to getting back on the field and showing that Rose football is back! We’ve got some really, really talented kids,” added Bland.

The Ayden-Grifton Chargers on the other hand, seek to keep the tradition growing.

“I’m excited about this year and the opportunity with the kids we’ve got,” said Lipe. “We’ve got a good group of kids, a good mix of kids. Coach Cornwell had done a great job here building a tradition and we are just trying to keep it going.”

While each team continues to work quietly, the sports world knows the competition, and the countdown is on.

“Let’s get ready for some football! It’s about time and I think we need it. I think everybody is waiting for us so we can get everything back to normal. We are ready to put our product on the field,” concluded Lipe.

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