Enterprise High School football coach Rick Darlington knows this has been an offseason like no other.
“I’ve coached 32 years and I’ve never missed spring football,” Darlington said Thursday afternoon. “It’s crazy. With everything so up in the air, you see college conferences saying they’re only going to play conference games or pushing football back until the spring. The whole tenuousness of it is disheartening, you know?”
And yet, the official start of football practice for Alabama high schools remains July 27 and Darlington said the Wildcats are working to make up for the lost time.
“We’re doing everything we need to try to catch up,” the coach said. “We’re doing speed work and agility work and weight room work and field work.”
Added to the mix this month is more conditioning, to prepare for the gauntlet that comes when practice starts.
“Basically, for June, we were focused on developing speed. That’s what we were doing before we broke in March,” the coach said. “After the July break, we said, sure, we want to develop speed, but we’ve got start to develop conditioning, too.”
Darlington quickly pushed back when asked if he’s been leaning on his experienced players more this summer.
“Who would that be?” he asked, before laughing. “We don’t have any experienced guys. Zero. We’re not a veteran team. We lost all of our D-line, we lost most of our O-line, we lost our quarterback.
“We’ve got one linebacker back, couple DBs back, a couple running backs back. That’s about it.”
He said the goal is to find out what the Wildcats can do and build the offensive pieces around that.
“We’ve got to get squared away with what Quentin Hayes feels good with and do that,” the coach said of his potential starting quarterback.
Certainly, the players look at the headlines and the news on TV, but that hasn’t affected their effort nor their attitude, the coach said.
“The kids are great. They don’t think like adults. They’re out there doing what they love to do and hoping they get to play,” Darlington said.
He knows there hasn’t been a lot of positive news regarding the pandemic recently — on television, in the newspaper or on social media.
“It’s momentum. It rolls down from the colleges and rolls into high schools,” he said.
“But we’ve never discussed the possibility of not playing. We’re out there trying to put the work in and get better every day. We don’t want to discuss all the what-ifs. Don’t worry about what you can’t control.”
There are enough things to work on that the Wildcats can control as the start of practice looms.
“We’re going to go next Monday and Tuesday and give them off the rest of the week,” Darlington said. “Once we get to the 27th we’re every day.”
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