Players, coaches remain wary of COVID as high school football season begins

As high school football season begins, players and coaches remain wary of COVID
Posted at 10:35 PM, Aug 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-20 23:50:51-04

MT. JULIET, Tenn. (WTVF) — For Green Hill High School senior Zach Hendley, it'll be his last season opener of high school football.

"Definitely excited, it's what you work for all year," he said.

This comes after last year's season was intercepted by the pandemic.

"Oh it was definitely hectic compared to any other football season," said Hendley. "It was really a week-to-week thing, you didn't really know if you were gonna have a game or not."

"We had about our first five games were cancellations so at that point it had become relationships and calling people that I was familiar with to say 'Hey, do y'all have a game? Would y'all like to come over and play?,'" said the team's head football coach Josh Crouch.

The team made it through nine games until two members tested positive for COVID before the final game of the season in 2020. "We ended on a Wednesday with kind of no closure with finishing that final game and having that closure," Crouch said.

Now as the new 2021 season kicks off, Crouch said they're sticking to a similar COVID game plan as last year.

"We're still operating as if it's almost 2020. We're still in small groups, positionally we're broken down- I think our biggest group is 12 kids. We don't stretch together as a team," he said.

"In the weight room we split offense and defense and we wipe down everything afterward and we wash all our clothes [here] every day," said Hendley.

But with so much uncertainty as the new season begins, just being able to play may be a win in and of itself.

"We'll probably take it week by week each week this year as well," said Hendley. "With COVID you just don't know what's going to happen so you just got to be ready to play at all times."

In Wilson County where the school is located, "face coverings are optional, but encouraged, for all students and staff".

The Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association also recently released its fall sports guidelines and protocols. They include the following:

  • All students who have tested positive for COVID-19 must receive clearance from a medical provider prior to resuming activities with his/her team. If a student tests positive for COVID-19 and subsequently receives his/her pre-participation physical and is cleared to play, no additional clearance is required. All coaches and students who are confirmed or suspected positive for COVID-19 should follow recommendations for release from isolation from the CDC when considering a return to practice or activities.