Friday July 10th, 2020 9:56PM

Area teams 'glad to be back' on first day

By Bo Wilson Sports Editor

Gainesville football coach Heath Webb tweeted Monday morning, "Back flipped outta bed this morning! LET’S GO!!!!"

Webb's tweet represented the feeling across northeast Georgia as coaches and players returned to campus for the first time since March 16. Student-athletes participated in small group workouts and conditioning with strict regulations from the Georgia High School Association.

The GHSA voted to lift its ban of high school athletics two weeks ago but released a laundry list of rules and regulations to help prevent the possible spread of COVID-19. Schools are allowed to condition only -- no balls -- in groups of 20 per sport at one time. Coaches also must check in each athlete and take their body temperature. They also have to work out at least six feet from each other. 

Several school systems began with outside or gymnasium conditioning only but a few schools allowed weight room workouts as well. 

Regardless of the rules and regulation hoops to jump through, Day 1 was a success, according to the area's coaches, and a step in the right direction in the hopeful return of high school sports across the state sooner than later. 

AccessWDUN caught up with several of the area's coaches on Monday to discuss the day's action. 

-- Cameron Pettus -- East Jackson (Mon., Tues., Thurs., 4 groups, 90 min each)

"I'm ecstatic!. I couldn't sleep last night waiting for this day. It was great to finally get back out there."

A lot of our guys looked better than I imagined they would, but you could also tell that they needed to get back out here and start conditioning. But no one looked like the Stay-Puff Marshmellow Man, which I was a little worried about.

Overall I was very encouraged."

-- Michael Perry -- East Hall (Monday - Thursday, 3 groups, 60 min each)

"It was kind of a surreal moment to finally be back out here after not seeing the kids since March. It was a lot of fun to back together for sure."

It was the most unique summer practice I think I've ever done in that you couldn't use any game equipment. Most everyone looked okay, but it was easy to see who had been following our plan and those who hadn't. There was a lot of vomiting going on, but we were anticipating that as well."

Just a great feeling, though, to be back practicing as a group."

-- Krofton Montgomery West Hall (Monday - Thursday, 4 groups, 90 minutes each)

"It was great to see the kids and be back out here as a group. Everyone needed this and just glad to be back practicing."

As far as the workouts, you could tell who had been following the program and who hadn't. But we also had some guys that looked better than we had imagined. Overall, just a great day to be back with the kids and the coaches and have that comradery."

-- David Bishop, North Hall (Monday - Thursday, 5 groups, 60 minutes each)

"It was nice to get to see the kids' faces in person and not on a video screen, and it was great just to see everyone be able to get back out there."

It was a little self-evident for some of the kids who had not been able to do much since we've been out. But the older kids were chomping at the bit to get going. We really enjoyed getting out there again."

-- Jay Reid, Banks County (Monday - Thursday, 4 groups, 105 min each)

"It was a great day to be out there with the guys again. Overall, I was very pleased with how our guys looked and came in ready."

Of course, there were a few who were not as ready, but that was to be expected. The squats got most of the guys. They had not lifted (weights) and run on the same day probably in a while like that, so the legs were the first to go. But they did everything we asked of them."

-- Heath Webb, Gainesville (Monday - Thursday, 3 groups, 60 minutes each) 

"It was great. It was just great to have all the coaches and players back on campus -- even though they weren't all on campus at the same time. It was just great to see all the faces and reconnect with the players and coaches as well. 

We did everything outside today. Our plan is to recondition this week -- try to get them back in shape this week -- and move into some more strenuous stuff next week. 

We're hopeful that in this first phase that everything will go as planned and we'll start getting some guidance on how to work with larger groups. We're hopeful to actually get into some football as well down the road."

-- Ben Hall, Flowery Branch (Monday-Thursday, 5 groups, 45 minutes each)

"We had great numbers. The kids were just so ready to have something to do. We didn't have a kid in the program, grades 9-12, that didn't show up without an excuse, but we've had great communication and the kids are ready to get going.

We were pleasantly surprised with some of them and for some of them, it was pretty obvious that they've got some catching up to do.

But the kids, showed up early, dressed and ready to go. It was a good day."

-- Sid Maxwell, Dawson County (Monday-Thursday, 2 groups, 120 minutes each, 3 campuses)

"I was pleased with our young men's effort. I thought we had a good plan, and the coaches did a good job of keeping the flow of the workout. Plus, trying to regulate all the regulations to be in sync of GHSA. I thought it was a very good day for our first day since being off since March 16. 

We had right at 98 percent attendance grades 9-12.

Our goal is to make them more athletic, so we're going into the weight room and outside with plyometrics. We're not playing anybody in football right now, so I'm trying to get mine in shape and more athletic."

-- Gene Cathcart, Jefferson (Monday - Thursday, 8 groups total, two different locations, 60 minutes)

"It went really well. It was great to be able to see all our guys and get back to work together preparing for 2020. 

They worked really hard, and it was good to see so many of them had stayed in shape over the time away. We graduated some outstanding players but have some great players coming back and a good bit of depth returning as well. 

We are blessed with many strong leaders in our program and it was awesome to be back with them today."

-- Rich McWhorter, Jackson County (Monday-Thursday

"I didn't know how it was going to work out, but it went pretty well overall."

The strange thing was I was thinking 'I remember being out here doing this.' Once we got going a little, it all seemed to be like normal. It didn't take too long after the initial start to get that feel back.

It felt great to get out there again with the kids, for sure."

-- Shaun Conley, Chestatee (Monday-Thursday) 

"Man it was a great day!  All the kids were super excited to be back on campus and being able to do something that is somewhat normal for them. 

There was a sense of urgency out there- we are preaching don’t take a single day for granted."

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