GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — While the NFL crowned its champion Sunday, our area public high schools are just getting started with their football season.
Monday is the first day of high school practices. The end of the NFL season usually marks the end of football, minus the NFL Draft, until August. But with the coronavirus pandemic, things are very different this year.
“I mean, it helps, it’s not going to hurt us,” D.H. Conley High School football coach Nate Conner said. “It will be fun to watch the biggest game of football of the year and say ‘Hay, we still have the whole season in front of us,” so it will be a lot of fun to see that.”
While private schools in North Carolina took part in the traditional football season last year, which runs August-December, football players at public schools in North Carolina were left on the sideline because of the pandemic. They have spent months working out together to gear up for the upcoming shortened season.
“The atmosphere out there, like you can feel the buzz in the air that the kids are like ‘Hey, it’s about to go down,” said new J.H. Rose football coach Will Bland. “The kids are excited, the community is excited, the school system is excited to finally get this bag and see what these athletes have been working so hard for.”
But like with everything else, this high school football season will look different, from limited crowds to facemasks for every player.
“As of right now, with the mandates with everything put in front of us, we are all goign to be wearing facemasks while we play, the mouthpieces will be under those,” Conner said. “It’s an adjustment. We’ve been working out with masks on.
“Luckily, it’s been cooler right now, so that helps. It’s a challenge that everyone is dealing with. If it’s what we have to do to play, then we are willing to do that.”
Instead of the dog days of summer, it will be the chilly nights in February and March. Hopefully that and COVID-19 won’t stop these athletes from hitting the field.