The “Kick Off” to Corona’s Football Season

Olivia Guy, Staff Writer

By Olivia Guy

Most Friday nights in fall, the football stands are filled with crowds of parents, teachers, and students cheering on the PA football team, but now they will remain empty until as late as Feb. 22.

Covid-19 has pushed back all fall sports until mid-February, making their first practice Feb. 4 and their first game Feb. 22. It is important to note that these dates are not final and must be approved by the Virginia High School League before these dates are confirmed.

Although practices and games will not begin until mid February, teams are still allowed to begin conditioning for the upcoming season. Guidelines and safety precautions have been set to keep players and coaches safe. PA has decided not to begin conditioning until closer to the season.

Football coach James Yeager wrote, “We were conditioning, but the stipulations and guidelines for conditioning were so stringent and difficult to follow. It just wasn’t very productive and since our season is five months away, we will start conditioning a little closer to when we will compete.”

Even with football being pushed back until the winter, the game could look different because of potential COVID guidelines. The Student Sports Coordinator Robert Robbins noted, “We have not yet received guidance or recommendations on how social distancing measures will play into sports or what happens if an athlete is diagnosed with COVID.”

The new spring season football will be half the season that the team is used to. The team will have six regular season games and only the top four teams in the region make the playoffs, opposed to the typical top eight. Yeager noted, “Each game will be significantly more important. You could lose one game and be out of the playoffs hunt this year.”

Coaches are grateful to even have the opportunity to play according to Yeager: “I will just be happy if they don’t turn around and cancel the season in the spring. It’s going to be weird playing in the spring and then turning around and three months later starting our fall season.”

Yeager also expressed that the weather factor plays a part in the team’s practices and games. Yeager wrote, “We will be playing during an entirely different part of the year. We will be practicing in February in the worst weather of the year.” Yeager continued, “That is also the height of flu season so we will see how that goes. COVID is the worst.”

“I don’t personally fear it. I know it’s very real and have even had an in-law pass away a month ago due to it.” He also understands the difference the effects have on healthy students and those with underlying health conditions. “I know that it doesn’t have a profound effect on kids and young adults especially those that are healthy. More kids have died from heart related illness and undiagnosed health issues than COVID this year.”

“So long as those players aren’t in close contact with those in the high risk category I don’t see the real danger. I’m more worried about our guys getting pneumonia practicing outside in cold wet weather in February.”

One big unanswered question is whether there will be crowds allowed in the stands during games. There are still many questions that will not be able to be answered until closer to the season.

For 12th grade athletes senior year is a key year because of the recruiting. “COVID has had a devastating impact on our season, how/when we will play, and on the recruitment of our players.”

States around the country have implemented diverse guidelines for going back to school, resulting in different states going back to school at different times. Going back to school also means going back to sports. Yeager noted, “Right now most neighboring states are playing and their kids are getting offers that our players should’ve been getting. Since we aren’t playing, colleges have really halted the recruitment of a lot of players.”

PA football players work hard and according to Yeager not playing this year is emotional, “Disappointed would be an understatement. Our guys have been preparing like none other.”

The team will continue to prepare in the spring and hope they can come together as a team to make the best out of an unknown situation. “We lost a pretty good player when Tony Grimes decided to graduate early and there may be a couple others that follow that same path before the spring. If we can keep everyone together, we will be fine.”

All in all according to Yeager, “Our guys are definitely bummed but they are taking it in strides and working on the things they can control.”