Norwood Football to be Played in Phase II
Sep 28, 2020 10:38AM
By By Christopher Tremblay
When the Covid 19 outbreak began in March, high school students were not only learning from home but also saw their spring sports season cancelled altogether. Although the pandemic is still around, athletes were able to take to the fields this summer in a limited capacity. High schools didn’t know what was to become of their fall season once they returned to school if they were allowed to return to school.
On August 28, the MIAA Covid 19 Task Force announced their plans for the fall 2020 high school sports season. The task force and individual sports committees from around the Commonwealth put forth a plan that would allow sports to take place in a fashion that adheres to the safety precautions and modifications recommended by the Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA). The fall season would begin on September 18th. Unfortunately, three sports (football, cheer, and volleyball) would not be eligible to play in September and would be part of Fall Sports Phase II, which wouldn’t begin until February 22 and run for approximately eight weeks through April 26. With that said, no real guidelines as to how this two-month season will be divided up into tryouts, practices and games and is yet to be decided.
“I’ve never had a Fall without football,” Norwood Football Coach Manny Lopes said. “In the past, we knew there were 21 practices before the season, I knew what we had. Right now, playing in Phase II, I really don’t know anything and how things will work out come February.”
While Lopes and his coaching staff don’t know what is going to happen once Phase II kicks in, he has had his athletes doing their normal routines as thought the season was going to begin in September.
“We’ve always pushed the kids to be ready,” the Mustang Coach said. “I love athletes who play multiple sports and get to see different coaching styles. With football being moved, a lot of my athletes also play basketball so they’ll be working on getting ready for that sport first this year.”
The football team began lifting this summer with all the social distancing procedures in place, but while they were getting ready, they had no idea if they were going to play football in the fall. And although they will be playing football, it will be a different time of the year. Prior to Covid 19, Norwood had 30-40 kids in the weight room at least three times a week preparing for the upcoming season. Now that the pandemic has subsided a bit and the athletes can get back to working out (with all the precautions), Lopes needs to get his athletes back into a routine, but knows that is not going to be easy with winter sports coming before football this year.
“It’s tough for these kids; they’ve been busting their humps for the beginning of the season,” the Coach said. “Unfortunately, I have a lot leaving to get ready for basketball season as that will be first and you can’t blame them as we don’t play football for another 6 months.”
Despite the inability of the athletes preparing for football right now, Lopes is looking toward having a successful campaign on the football field even though it won’t be until the winter.
“Playing football in winter compared to the fall shouldn’t be an issue, Lopes said. “Snow will not be a big deal as we can plow the turf, but if we have snow storms all week leading up to a game, that’s an entirely different story and may be difficult. Again, playing in the winter shouldn’t be a big impact, unless we get three feet of snow. Cold weather is cold weather, it’s not ideal but we will play through it.”
With football on the back burner for so many winter sport athletes, Lopes and his staff just need to keep in front of the kids. He has no issues with them getting ready for their winter sports but wants them to continue to prepare for the football season as well. He doesn’t want athletes to totally disappear in September and then show back up in February; he wants them to be ready to play.
Originally, the MIAA voted to lift Rule 40, which doesn’t allow coaches to be with their players until the season begins, but the Athletic Directors of the Tri Valley League shot that down.
It may be a competitive disadvantage, but the entire TVL is doing it and everyone will be playing in February instead of September. Most likely with the shortened season, the TVL teams will not have any outside-league games, they will just play teams within the league. At this point, that is just a guess as nothing has been set in stone.
Coming into the season, Lopes was excited about the group of athletes he had returning to the football field. His juniors were all a year older, he had a quarterback entering his senior season who already had started for the past year and a half, his offensive line was something he was excited to see play together, and he had numerous underclassmen that saw action last fall that he was hoping to take the next step this year.
“I’m still very excited about what the season brings, no matter when it is,” the Norwood Coach said. “I told the team that if they continue to be ready then we’ll be fine, but if they don’t then it will be a long season.”
While the MIAA hammers out the way things will go about once the season gets underway, Lopes and the rest of the football coaches will just have to take a wait and see approach and hopefully have answers to when their upcoming season will actually begin and to what capacity.