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When schools reopen, will prep football teams have enough time to prepare?

Some coaches say teams will need at least a month of practice and conditioning before games resume.
Chamberlain football coach Jason Lane believes players will need at least six weeks of conditioning and practice when schools reopen before playing a game.
Chamberlain football coach Jason Lane believes players will need at least six weeks of conditioning and practice when schools reopen before playing a game. [ Times ]
Published May 16, 2020

Even if the coronavirus crisis dissipates and the state’s prep football season plays out as scheduled, coaches still must deal with a dilemma growing more serious each day.

Limbo is cutting into their preparation time.

For now, the season is scheduled to commence with preseason games the week of Aug. 12-15. If schools don’t reopen until July, is that enough time to properly teach and condition players who already had spring practice wiped out, and who have remained in self-isolation for two months?

And just how much time is needed to acclimate a team to the heat and rigors of a regular season spanning at least 10 games?

The prevailing thought suggests a month — at least.

Related: Amid pandemic, high school football remains in holding pattern

“In my opinion, I would like to see teams being given three to four weeks of some type of summer conditioning, weightlifting, etc., then the normal three weeks of official practice,” Dixie Hollins coach Dale Caparaso said.

Chamberlain’s Jason Lane concurred, noting research showed an increase in injuries to NFL players following the 2011 lockout.

“Imagine the impact at the high school level,” Lane said, “considering kids are still learning how to play the game and are less developed physically.”

Current Florida High School Athletic Association guidelines permit three weeks of practice before the preseason game. This year, the first permissible practice is July 27.

But those three weeks generally are preceded by months of conditioning, not to mention spring practice. During the ongoing crisis, schools have been closed since mid-March, and spring practice in Florida was canceled.

“You have some kids that are killing it , and you have some kids that haven’t gotten off their couch once (since schools closed),” Pasco County athletic director Matt Wicks said.

“I’ve been on some other calls with some strength coaches and other county ADs, and that’s what we’re really trying to focus on, having some type of return-to-action type of guidelines.”

Veteran East Bay coach Frank LaRosa said the key is treating all players as if they haven’t worked out at all since schools shut down. He said a minimum three weeks would be needed before that first preseason game, with the first five days (in which full contact is forbidden) used for conditioning.

“If you think of that high school kid that does not work out, disappears all summer and shows up for the first day of practice,” LaRosa said, “how is this (situation) any different than that kid?”

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