High school football practices have started to return across the state of Florida under new guidelines to ensure student safety. These include remaining 6 feet apart, strict time slots, avoiding physical contact, and not allowing footballs to be thrown between players. Coaches must also wear masks, while students can elect not to.
During a recent filming of a football practice at Sandalwood High School, it was clear that these new restrictions placed quite the burden on the athletes and coaches. Although they certainly made the best of it, there’s only so many drills and exercises you can perform as a football player without having physical contact or using footballs.
Defensive lineman Jquan Hicks is going into his senior year at Sandalwood and is eager for his last season of high school football. Despite the restrictions, Hicks and his teammates have maintained high hopes and a positive attitude toward their fall return.
“We’re taking it well,” Hicks said. “Everyone wants to get back in the weight room and start grinding. We want to push each other and compete while making the most out of what we have.”
Even though there has been a lapse in practices during quarantine, Hicks said he feels prepared.
“I work hard outside of school practices,” he said. “I’m always getting a good workout, so overall I don’t feel I’ve lost a step.”
The changes to practice could have dramatic effects on the upcoming season. It may significantly affect team chemistry, leading to a season full of penalties, missed throws, and fumbles.
“The pace of practice is way slower because of COVID-19, but we’re still doing all that we can,” Hicks said.
The restrictions on drills and exercises means players may not be getting the full range of workouts needed to perform at a high level come game day.
While it’s fair to point out how these restrictions might impact football this season, it’s important to keep in mind that they are in place for public safety. COVID-19 has claimed thousands of lives, including a portion of young adults. Until antivirals or a vaccine are available, safety will remain a priority.
To other athletes who might be having trouble during this pandemic, Hicks offered some advice of his own.
“Keep your head grinding,” he said. “It’s all a process. Go out and dominate everything you do 100%.”
Written by: Cameron Jones