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HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: Area teams begin practicing with guidelines in place - Odessa American: Sports

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HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: Area teams begin practicing with guidelines in place

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Posted: Monday, August 3, 2020 8:08 pm

The long-awaited first day of football practice finally came for all Class 1A-4A schools in the state on Monday.

While it had a different feel than in previous years, the coaches and players were just happy to be back on the field to get things going.

Players from around the area were glad to finally be back on the practice field.

“It’s huge,” McCamey head coach Michael Woodard said. “It’s huge every year for us.

“Obviously, it’s a little bit different this year but we’re still excited to be here. We’re blessed and we’re excited and the kids are showing their attitudes and giving their best efforts.”

With the COVID-19 pandemic bringing the 2019-20 school year’s spring sports calendar to a premature end in April, some of the players and coaches haven’t seen each other since, even with the UIL allowing summer and conditioning workouts over the summer. 

“I think the most exciting part is that we have our kids back,” Iraan head coach Matthew Luddeke said. “It’s a strange year for everyone.

“We haven’t really seen them since March. The UIL let us come back for summer workouts and that was good to have.”

Luddeke has been able to have all of his players back on the field.

“We had some guys out during the summer but now it’s good to have everyone back,” he said. “The biggest excitement is that we have everyone back.”

For some players, the excitement and anticipation of Monday was almost too much to bare.

“We’ve been waiting for it all year,” Iraan’s Javier Hernandez said. “All summer, we’ve been training. We have a lot of freshmen on the team.”

Rankin’s Ben Rios echoed those thoughts and added that he had trouble getting to sleep the night before the start of practice.

“I won’t lie, I didn’t get to sleep until two or three in the morning because all I could think about was practice,” Rios said.

The Red Devils, who are coming off last year’s semifinal playoff run, began their practice at sunrise.

“I’ll say that this is different that this is different than any other season that I’ve experienced,” Rankin head coach Garrett Avalos said. “Every year, you’re excited to get back to work. Fortunately, we’ve had a great summer.

“We had a great turnout with kids. We feel like it’s an added bonus that we still get to play and still get to start on time with two-a-days. We’re ready to get rolling.”

Trying to stay safe and enforcing guidelines to social distance have been among the challenges for coaches and players as they prepared for the start of practice.

“There are all sorts of procedures that kids and coaches are getting used to,” Woodard said. “Trying to implement those and trying to get back to where we were is a tough task.

“I think today was a good day. The kids responded well to the procedures.”

Regardless, the players aren’t taking anything for granted and enjoying a return to normalcy.

“We’re excited to be back,” Rios said. “We’re ready to work with coach and get ready for the season. We’re ready to work together.”

>> Follow Michael Bauer on Twitter at @OAmichaelba

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