The hum of the lights towering over Mustang’s football field late Sunday night were only overcome by the soft voices of coaches spread across the turf. Mustang’s football team held meetings before a midnight practice kicked off its 2020 season. Members of the defense were outside while the offense remained in the fieldhouse. Positions groups were spread out, defensive backs in the north end zone, linemen in the south and linebackers at midfield on the home sideline.
The Broncos, though the number of players in each position group were plenty, had spread out across the turf and bleachers to stay distanced. Every coach and athlete wore a mask, and when head coach Lee Blankenship called the players inside to grab their equipment and get ready for a midnight sharp start to practice, he called out words he has grown accustomed to saying.
“Guys, make sure you stay spread out heading into the locker room. Give each other space,” he hollered across the field as players scurried toward the locker room. The coronavirus pandemic made the first day of football practice ahead of the 2020 season unlike any before it. Coaches spent as much time stressing on how to keep their kids spaced out and safe as they did installing new route concepts or defensive coverages.
Football teams are also weeks behind on preparation because there was no spring ball. Even with Zoom meetings and summer workouts, most programs are essentially starting from scratch.