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An extended workout schedule by high schools in Alabama is now underway due to the COVID-19 pandemic and players from all local schools, including those at James Clemens High, have followed strict safety guidelines during their usual football drills. One of the top rules with the Jets is players are restricted to being in small groups. Photo- Wade Waldrop, James Clemens High

Summer Football Workouts Continue In Preparation For 2020 Season

MADISON- The official first day of practice for high school football programs across Alabama according to the Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) is set for Aug. 3, but with the recent COVID-19 pandemic guidelines, the AHSAA has allowed for teams to begin gatherings with strict virus protocol and little time limitations.

The practices sessions are also dealing with proper hydration protocol as heat indexes can exceed 100 degrees during the peak portions of the day. Each school is handling the practice sessions, under the guidance set forth by the AHSAA, in their own way with each head coach instructing the workouts in varied manners.

At James Clemens, head coach Wade Waldrop has enforced strict guidelines for drop off and pick up times for players and attempt to stay in small groups to avoid having to shut down the whole team if the virus hits a player.

“We have players in groups of 10-12 on the field during drills and obviously wear masks when we can’t social distance,” said Waldrop. “We have hand cleaning barriers in and out of our facility like the weight room and before entering the playing field. Not to mention, we have closed our locker rooms.”

At Bob Jones, first-year head coach Kelvis White has been busy being acclimated to the new surroundings presented when he took the job moving to the Patriots from Mae Jemison of Huntsville. He knows he’s not coming into a troubled program as Bob Jones has been one of the top programs for the past decade, but with limited time to know his players and coaching staff he has tried to use this practice period to his advantage.

Laron White, the four-year older brother to Kelvis, is busy with his squad at Sparkman High this summer. As head coach, he has instituted numerous guidelines within his program to help keep the players and football staff safe during the current pandemic. Players have their temperature taken upon arrival and must bring their own water bottles.

“We ask the players to wear masks when possible especially in the weight room where no more than 13 players are allowed at any given time,” said Laron White. “We not allowed to have more than six receivers on the field at one time as the footballs are wiped down and the weights are wiped down. During this period we’re learning on the fly.”

Each of the four local teams are hosting morning workouts to try and beat the heat, but even then with high humidity and active workouts players and coaches must adhere to guidelines of not only the coronavirus, but also hydration. Each of the programs encouraged the consumption of water throughout the activities, as well as, prior to and after workouts.

“Our coaching staff is always on guard for signs of dehydration or heat stress as everyone’s body handles heat and hydration a little different,” said Bob Godsey head coach of Madison Academy. “With the COVID-19 threat, we ask our players to bring their own gallon jug of water for consumption during workouts.”

The official kickoff to the 2020 season is Aug. 21. As of now, the scheduled season is still being planned with Bob Jones traveling to face Auburn High, James Clemens headed to Mobile to battle Murphy High, Sparkman will play in Gardendale while Madison Academy will host Briarwood Christian. Updates to the schedule are always possible as the AHSAA could make changes prior to that date.

The Alabama High School Athletic Association recently met with its Fall Sports and Football Coaches’ Committees to discuss the future plans for school athletics. The committees heard updates from the AHSAA Medical Advisory Board Committee and the Alabama State Department of Education. Steve Savarese, Executive Director of the AHSAA enlisted input concerning options for fall sports play moving forward as the AHSAA plans to present any recommendations for review and approval at the Central Board of Control’s next board meeting scheduled for July 22.

In the meantime, teams continue to prepare for the upcoming school seasons of play.

“I’m looking forward to making relationships with my players and my assistant coaching staff as I’ve had to hire four new coaches to go along with two remaining members of the staff of our program,” said Kelvis White.

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