Pat Benson: Friday Night Lights Is Moving Forward Towards 2020 Season

Monday, May 4, 2020

It feels like we are in a horrible sci-fi movie. Schools closed, sports cancelled, and businesses shuttered while the nation grapples with an unrelenting virus. High school sports are an afterthought and fall low on the list of our priorities right now.

But we would all do anything to return to our old lives and reclaim some since of normalcy. Currently, our local high school football coaches are moving forward the best they can while practicing social distancing. I reached out to just a few of the coaches to get a sample of how they are adapting to these difficult times.

Spring Practice/Timeline

East Hamilton Coach Grant Reynolds – “I don’t know how much it will affect us not having spring practice. In the past it’s helped us get a look at the younger kids, but we won’t really know until summer. We are not changing anything on offense or defense.”

Red Bank Coach Chris Brown – “Academics is always our top priority during the spring. Making sure our athletes are eligible to play in the fall. It’s normal for us to spend an hour in tutoring and study hall during spring practices. So, we are monitoring their online work in addition to staying in contact with them.”

Walker Valley Coach Drew Akins – “We are still in contact with college coaching. Honestly, this time has been very beneficial for recruiting because we have had time to really focus on it. We sent out 80+ emails with our prospect list to all colleges within a 200+ mile radius. We have had a lot of feedback on these emails. We have been able to place 2020 players and well as generate interest for our 2021 class as well. That has been a real positive to this time.”

 

Technology

East Hamilton Coach Grant Reynolds – “We have installed a team app, which is free. We send out messages daily. Reminders, and encouragement to kids. They send back pictures of their workout sessions, so we see what they’re doing. And it helps keep parents involved. We have zoom meetings with our players, and face to face on different occasions. Just to send out a good positive message, a little bit of football.”

Walker Valley Coach Drew Akins – “We are getting a little more personal with our players through our BAND App. This app builds a news feed specifically for our team. We give information out through the app and stay connected that way. We gave our players body weight and free weight workouts early on in the process to make sure they continued to work. I make videos on Tuesdays and Thursdays to talk about new things like personnel and schemes. We do zoom calls just to check in with our kids and make sure they are eating, healthy and do not have any immediate needs that we could help with. I zoom call with coaches 2-3 times a week to plan. We are hopeful for a June start date and are asking our players to prepare for a typical summer.”

 

Training

Soddy Daisy Coach Justin Barnes – “Luckily, I had most of our guys in weight training. So, I communicate with them through our online classes doing workout checks. We supplied them with our workouts if they had access to weights, body weight workouts if they didn’t and a conditioning program. We are actually going to do a zoom meeting tomorrow to just touch base, say hi, have coaches touch base with them. We communicate through texts mainly.”

Lookout Valley Coach Josh Payne – “We are saying in touch with parents by email and social media, and players by the GroupMe app which we use already for communication. We have sent out at home workouts and sprinting workouts for the guys to be doing. Trying to make the best of this whole thing.”

 

Outlook

Lookout Valley Coach Josh Payne – “I fully expect season to start on time.”

East Hamilton Coach Grant Reynolds – “I fully anticipate a full season, they haven’t changed anything on the calendar. I think they will do everything in their power – even if it means playing the championship games in late December.”

Soddy Daisy Coach Justin Barnes – “I have hope. Of course, this month as things open up will be a big part of that. When we can start is up to HCDE so hopefully things go well over the next few weeks and we can start summer workouts as normal after Memorial Day.”

Red Bank Coach Chris Brown – “We run our program based on the facts we know and maintain the urgency of a full season and playoff schedule.”

 

As of today, the fall academic and athletic calendars for our local schools have not changed. It’s clear that our football coaches are working harder than ever and continuing to innovate to provide kids with the best experience possible. Let’s hope we are able to gather under the Friday Night Lights this coming fall and celebrate our rich tradition again.

 

Contact Pat Benson on Twitter @Pat_Benson_Jr.


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