In typical years, the 7-on-7 football summer tournaments already would have been a thing of the past this time of year. But nothing has been typical about the 2020 football season in the age of COVID-19.
Most state and area teams on Thursday completed their first week back running 7-on-7 drills and having a mostly full-complement of players after the Georgia High School Association loosened restrictions last week.
The rust was prevalent for most programs as they ran plays as a group for the first time since the end of the 2019 season.
White County coach Tim Cokely summed up the first week for his Warriors, which probably mirrored most programs’ thoughts.
“I thought the week went pretty well. It was just good to see the guys be able to get back out here in practice,” Cokely said. “You would never know that there's something wrong. We've got beautiful sunshine out here today; just a great day to be out practicing football.
“You could tell there was a little rust as we got out of here with the 7-on-7 stuff, but they're working hard to get back to where they should be this time of year. It’s hard to complain when you haven't been able to do this for a while.”
A sweaty but smiling White County senior quarterback J. Ben Haynes said his group had been waiting for this week and is ready to begin the escalation.
“It was fun to just be able to come out here and compete offense against defense,” Haynes said. “There was even a little smack being said and that’s always fun.
“This is the 4-week mark of being back and I think with all that's been going on we actually look pretty good. I do think we would be a little further along if there had been no interruptions but it wasn't too bad. This is an older group with 19 seniors so we knew what to expect coming into this year and everybody's working hard and I think we're in pretty good shape considering.”
The Warriors, like every other program and school system, will have wait to see what the GHSA lays out next as far a further loosening of restrictions.
On Wednesday the GHSA elected to not implement any additional changes to the Coronavirus Guidance Plan for now. All previously distributed correspondence is still in place until further notice.
In its statement, the GHSA "is expecting all schools to continue reporting any and all Positive COVID-19 cases (list positive test date, athlete or coach, and sport) results since June 8th.
"In addition to the positive cases, (the GHSA) is requesting (member schools) report any and all individuals who have been screened out of any conditioning workouts (list date screened out, athlete or coach, and sport)."
(Click play above to see practice video for both Chestatee and White County on Thursday.)