Normally the Super Bowl signals the end of football season, but not this year. For Virginia high school teams, it’s just beginning.
Football practice officially starts on Thursday of this week by the Virginia High School League athletic calendar during the coronavirus pandemic. Both Lord Botetourt and James River will begin official practices tomorrow, although athletes have been conditioning according to protocols prior to this week.
“Our kids have been in the weight room and we should have the strongest team we’ve ever had,” said Lord Botetourt coach Jamie Harless. “I expect about 90 to be on the team.”
The Cavaliers are planning early morning workouts Thursday. Protocols include temperature checks, equipment cleaning and rotating footballs for cleaning.
James River is also starting tomorrow but the Knights still have many players participating in winter sports. Basketball, wrestling and track are still going on.
“We have more than half our players in a winter sport,” said coach Tim Jennings. “This is a really good problem to have in a small school, but that is a significant number of kids who would not be available in a conventional practice format starting Thursday. We are working as a staff to overcome that issue to hopefully do everything we need to do.”
The weather has also been a factor. Last weekend’s snow has covered the fields at both schools and the continuing cold temperature hasn’t done much as far as melting.
“We’ll have a hard time finding practice space if our field is still covered,” said Jennings. “We also have several coaches coaching basketball. That’s another factor, but we’ll adjust.”
River is planning to practice after school along with three Saturday 8 a.m. practices.
The first games are scheduled for Monday, Fe. 22. James River is scheduled to play Glenvar and Lord Botetourt has Staunton River. However, all are tentative and subject to change due to the pandemic.