TUSCOLA (WCIA) — Playing high school football in a pandemic will certainly look and feel different this season. Practices officially started Wednesday and Tuscola wasted no time getting going, taking advantage of nice weather.
“I can tell as soon as we came in Monday, our kids shoulders were a little taller, chin was a little taller, they’re excited,” Tuscola head coach Andy Romine said. “This is something that our kids really enjoy. Obviously the school aspect of it is important but I think we’ve all seen over the last year, we haven’t played a ton of sports until basketball started so I think we all get a sense that this stuff is pretty important to the school environment.”
The fact that it’s March and teams are just starting practice is the most notable difference but the reality that a season is upon us reason to celebrate. State leaders postponed the fall football schedule due to COVID-19, then gave the surprise go-ahead to resume all sports Jan. 22. With it, several protocols and sport specific rules to help mitigate the spread of the virus. In football, masks must be worn under helmets, a new element that players are still getting used to.
“You notice it when it gets really sweaty and you can barely breathe,” Tuscola senior Hans Goodmann said. “You step away and take a break for two seconds and then you’re ready to go. It’ll get normal after a while.”
That new normal includes not changing in locker rooms, showering after practice and games or sharing water from the same container. It’s a change from the past but well worth the inconvenience for the opportunity to play.
“Our kids have made makeshift locker rooms in the trunks of their cars, and that’s pretty awesome,” Romine said. “Our kids are going to find a way to deal with it as well as they can and find a way to be successful.”
Tuscola opens the season at Central A&M on March 19 at 7 p.m. The Warriors are coming off an 8-3 season in 2019, losing in the second round of the playoffs. There is no postseason in football this spring.