Despite getting clearance from the AHSAA to return to campus and begin athletic activities June 1, Tallassee football coach Mike Battles wanted to make sure his program was taking all necessary precautions before getting back on the field.
After sending out several pages of information to every player and coach and holding a parent meeting last week, Battles brought the Tigers back to the field Monday night and he said he could not have hoped for a better practice.
“It was awesome,” Battles said. “We still have a few kids on vacation but we had about 90% of our team with us… Everything seemed to work pretty good. Our kids did what they needed to do and understood everything. It was above and beyond what I expected.”
Players arrived to the stadium and immediately had to turn in the proper paperwork to go any further. Each person was then screened at the gate for a fever and any other COVID-19 symptoms before being given hand sanitizer and a mask.
Battles and his staff made sure the masks were worn when anyone was standing closer than 6 feet from one another but the Tigers tried to avoid that situation as much as possible by staying out in the open area. Tallassee got plenty of work in on the field but due to safety concerns, Battles kept the players out of the locker room and weight room.
“From the things I’ve heard, the more you can stay in open space, the better it is,” Battles said. “We could’ve spent some time in there but I felt like we would spend more time cleaning and not getting a lot of productivity with it. To me, the gains did not make me feel like it was worth it.”
To make up for some of the lost gains in the weight room, the key focus for Monday night’s workout was getting in top condition.
“We didn’t go out there and try to run a marathon but we did some conditioning,” Battles said. “For the most part, our older kids came back in pretty good shape. You could tell they had been out there running at least a little bit. They know what it’s going to take.”
The Tigers also got to work on some football drills. After working on some footwork and agility drills, the players split up into their units before coming together for a walk-through to wrap up the day.
“We had an individual period and we had a pass scale period with just the offense,” Battles said, “The defense did alignment and assignment work. Then we came together for an 11-on-11 period with everyone in their masks and we didn’t have any contact. We made some calls and got lined up. It was more like a dance than football.”
Battles said the coaching staff made sure to stay on top of the players and were constantly reminding everyone just to be sure all guidelines were followed.
“We did pretty good (Monday) but we want to make sure we continue to do what we’re supposed to,” Battles said. “We want to continue this thing and that’s what it’s going to come down to. It’s a hassle for me too but if that’s what it takes to play football this fall, that’s what I’m going to do. We get one shot at this thing. If everyone does what they’re supposed to, we can play football in August.”