Sep 16, 2020 9:13 PM

High school football prevails despite pandemic

Posted Sep 16, 2020 9:13 PM

By TYLER HENRY
Salina Post contributor

This story is brought to you by Salina Ortho: We are where you live, work and play. Including satellite clinics, for most of our patients we are a short drive away!
This story is brought to you by Salina Ortho: We are where you live, work and play. Including satellite clinics, for most of our patients we are a short drive away!

Six months ago, Covid-19 brought the world of sports to its knees, with a shutdown that saw the NBA, NHL, MLB, college basketball, and a number of other sports postpone or outright cancel their seasons.

In a time when the future of sports looked uncertain, the communities behind those leagues, teams, and players pulled together for a victorious and safe return in just a few short months.

While leagues like the NBA had millions of dollars to throw at the problem, many questions remained about how, or even if it would be possible to safely resume high school sports in the fall.

Despite doubts and long odds high school football, the biggest and undoubtedly most complicated of fall sports, got underway on time in the state of Kansas.

Most teams are already in their third week of play, and many have been able to get there with little to no difficulty.

“I hope for the kids that all sports are able to continue this fall,” Central head coach Mark Sandbo said. “I believe it’s such an important key to developing our youth.”

While the start to the season in many cases has gone off without a hitch, there has been a blistering amount of work done behind the scenes to keep things on track.

In addition to following KSHAA guidelines surrounding things like masks and splash shields, teams around the state have taken additional precautions to keep their players, coaches and fans safe.

At Salina Central, athletes must fill out a health and wellness questionnaire and be temperature checked before participating in practice.

Teams are also limited to how many players can be in the locker room at a time, which has made the process of suiting up and down for practice a much longer task.

Once on the field, players are spaced out in warm up lines, and at some schools, even put into groups contact drills all season to prevent the possible spread of the virus.

Once practice is completed, all footballs, helmets, shoulder pads, and other equipment must be disinfected before it can be used the following day.

“There’s just as much cleaning involved as coaching this year,” Sacred Heart head coach Shane Richards said.

While all of the cleaning can be cumbersome to some, others, like first year Abilene head coach Brad Nicks, has seen an amusing benefit.

“With all of the cleaning and disinfecting I will say, our locker room smells a lot better.”

While there is still a lot of uncertainty surrounding the potential impact of Covid-19 on the 2020 season, everyone has a role to play in keeping each other safe.

“If everybody does their part there is a way to slow the spread of this virus,” Chapman head coach Kurt Webster said. “If we all make an effort as smaller communities I’m cautiously optimistic that we can play a full schedule this year.”