In a little more than three weeks, high school football teams in Oregon are scheduled to open practices to begin officially preparing for contests the week of March 1.
While football is scheduled to start practice before the other traditional fall sports, the issue is that football remains a prohibited sport. So unless the Oregon Health Authority changes its stance on football, the start of the already condensed season could remain in jeopardy.
Mountain View High School football coach Brian Crum joined the Bulletin Sports Talk to discuss the state of high school football in Oregon.
“The analogy that I use is that we have continued to kick the can down the road of whether it is suspension of a season, or moving beyond, or canceling of spring sports, or condensing of seasons,” Crum said. “As we get to January 2021, I think all thought we would have played by now, but we haven’t.
“But we as a staff are preparing like February the 8th we are gonna get into a week of real practice and hopefully put on the helmet and shoulder pads the following week.”
Throughout Season 1 and dating back to last June, Mountain View has continued to hold football practices within the guidelines set forth by the OHA and the Oregon School Activities Association.
“We have been lifting weights since June 16th, we had almost 15 practices and we had seven different 7-on-7 competitions,” Crum said. “Everything keeps getting dragged out and stretched out, but the kids need it. There is no doubt about that.”
Preparing for a football game in the age of COVID-19 and its restrictions creates an interesting challenge.
Unlike most sports, there is little ad-libbing in football, as each play has a design that requires 11 different moving parts.
But under the current guidelines, it is impossible for 11 players to work on plays against another 11 players.
“The game has a funny way of finding the one guy out of 11 that doesn’t know their job, or makes a mistake, or had a breakdown in terms of what they are doing,” Crum said.
Without high school football, not only in Oregon but in other states, there has been a rise in club football teams. In recent weeks, California has seen multiple full-contact football teams made up of high schoolers given a chance to play and compete outside of the high school structure.
This presents an interesting scenario for high school coaches like Crum, who want their athletes to have opportunities to play and get recognized by college football coaches, but who also want what is safest and in the best interest of the kids.
“There is a fine line, if kids find the right program and there is a coach who is really invested in those kids and wants to help develop those kids, then I have no problem if my quarterback wants to go out and get more reps,” Crum said.
“It is probably good that he is hearing another voice besides mine all the time. He is going to get experience that right now, during this pandemic, I can’t provide.”