With uncertainty surrounding sports in 2020, the Banks County football team is learning to just enjoy the moment as summer workouts continue.
While the season is slated for a delayed, Sept. 4 start, unknowns still exist with how the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic might effect sports. Coach Jay Reid said he and his team recognize that.
“Right now, we’re taking the mindset of enjoying the journey,” Reid said. “Like I told the kids early on in this thing, I can’t guarantee you we’ll play a game. So, we’ve got to enjoy every moment that we get together.”
And that’s what Reid is seeing.
“Our guys, all summer, have been really excited and really happy about being back around one another,” he said. “So, I think getting us back together and being able to work together was a huge positive.”
Reid reported no problems in getting back to work when team conditioning activities were OK’d by the GHSA in early June. One of the biggest keys, he said, was the team staying in good shape despite a long layoff.
“Like most coaches, I was worried about the shape our guys would come in after the long break in the spring,” Reid said. “I was pleased they came in in pretty good shape. We really haven’t missed a beat. It’s been very much like normal.”
He also praised his coaches for navigating this offseason with the restrictions imposed by the GHSA to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Teams initially started off with conditioning only in early June with groups of just 20.
“Just about everything we’ve had to do, us as coaches have had to develop a new system, some things we’ve never experienced before,” Reid said. “I feel like we have one of the best coaching staffs around, as far as knowledge and influence with the kids, the way they work together … We’ve devised some systems that have worked out really well for us.”
Like the rest of the teams in the state, Banks County has returned to using helmets in practice after the GHSA granted use of them starting July 20.
But Reid said one of the biggest keys was being allowed to move forward with in-team 7-on-7 competition (though 7-on-7s against other schools are still prohibited). The GHSA began permitting that in late June. That’s allowed for some installation of schemes and offensive-oriented work.
“Getting to the 7-on-7 was really good for us,” Reid said. “And getting into helmets, I’m a firm believer that if you’re playing a 7-on-7 it’s just safer to have on a helmet.”
Now teams are getting ready for Sept. 4, the new start date approved by the GHSA. Games were originally slated to begin Aug. 21, but the GHSA opted to push the season back two weeks. The extra time will allow teams to get into game shape after missing spring football and a portion of the offseason.
“I thought the GHSA did a fantastic job,” said Reid, whose team will open at home against Commerce on Sept. 4. “In their statement to us, they really basically said this is not about COVID, it’s about conditioning, and I think they’re right in that that’s the paramount thing we’ve got to be concerned about.”
Personally, Reid said he’s a fan of a September start for games, recalling a time when the football season started later.
“I can remember when we used to start a little bit later,” he said. “I like it a lot more. I like playing football in the cold weather. I’m excited about this myself.”
Meanwhile, the Leopards continue to find positives in what’s been an unusual off season. Getting back together back in early June after a long layoff helped galvanize the team, Reid said.
“You know the old saying, ‘Separation makes the heart grow fonder,’?” … It’s helped us to jell,” Reid said. “It’s helped to bring our kids together more. They missed one another and they missed the camaraderie … I can’t say enough about our young men. They’re fantastic. They do everything we ask them to do. We’re blessed to be where we’re at.”