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Countdown to kickoff

High schoolfootball gets the green light

By CJ HADDAD - | Aug 27, 2020

The countdown to the high school football season in Southwest Florida has officially begun; as the School District of Lee County School District announced last week regular season games will kickoff Sept. 18. 

High school programs around the region and country have already had to overcome foreign obstacles and procedures just to get to a place where a schedule could be approved. At one point in time, the entire season was up in the air and now, it looks as if a time will come where players will take to the field in meaningful competition. 

Programs have already had to adjust summer practices for social distancing and health screenings, which will continue in the early stages of fall practice. 

“Football athletes will remain in their summer cohorts of 20 players or less,” read a release from the school district. “They will wear pads and helmets so they can get acclimated to the heat but will not begin a full practice until September 8th. Games will begin on Friday, September 18th, and will be played locally within the district, with possible expansion into games with Charlotte and Collier counties. Other county games are not being considered at this time.

“The district continues to discuss processes for games, including the attendance of spectators, in consultation with local health officials. Further details will be forthcoming.”

First-year Island Coast High School head coach Elgin Hicks said this was an offseason like no other he had ever experienced. He used his tools as a coach to game plan for a myriad of different scenarios and said his team used the time to come together as one. 

“Everything we were accustom to was different, and we had to adapt,” Hicks said. “We had to check temps and ask COVID-related questions before allowing the players to enter onto school grounds daily. We told our players if they weren’t feeling well, don’t come. We didn’t want to risk it. We wanted to keep everyone safe at all cost, even if it meant telling kids to miss conditioning.”

Hicks said not being able to get into the weight room or touching a football until halfway through the summer was a challenge, but that Island Coast wanted to do its part in keeping its student-athletes and coaching staff safe, as well as their families. 

Being unable to focus on formations or alignments, Hicks worked his men to get in the best shape they can possibly be in and hopes that pays off when it’s time to line up. 

“We have been on the grind since June 15,” Hicks said. “I wanted to take them through the hardest summer conditioning that have ever been through. If they can make it through that, they wont quit on me. I was just trying to make them better than we started and ready to finish in the fourth quarter.”

Hicks said the greatest takeaway from these, well, different times, is connecting as a team. 

“We were able to really bond as a team. We weren’t rushed to really do anything besides get in shape and get a lot of mental reps,” Hicks said. “We were able to get to love and appreciate one another.”

 

— Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj