Students in Bulloch County schools started classes Monday. For area football coaches it was a welcome return to somewhat normal conditions after having to regulate practices a year ago due to COVIC-19 protocols put in place.
“There was a lot unknown last year at this time,” said Statesboro head coach Jeff Kaiser. “There were a lot of adjustments having to be made in how we practiced. We feel like our kids need a routine and last year that wasn’t possible, but we feel they did a great job adjusting to whatever we told them.”
Southeast Bulloch head coach Jared Zito was at Ola high school last year, but had to deal with much of the same scrambling to get things accomplished as they did in Bulloch County last year.
“Because we went through last summer and into the fall and things were okay, I think there’s a little more optimism this year,” said Zito. “There were a lot of adjustments we had to make last year that we actually felt were beneficial and implemented this year. We are continuing to work in groups as I feel that really helped us accomplish more last year.
“We had our younger kids together more last summer and during the fall,” said Zito. “I feel like that really allowed us to pay more attention to detail with the younger players. Having gone through all the uncertainty we did last year made this summer and now into the first day of school feel a lot easier.”
Southeast Bulloch will hold a scrimmage this Friday at home while Statesboro will be in action on the 13th which is something they were unable to do last year.
“You are able to put the kids in a game time situation before a real game and it’s a great benefit,” said Kaiser. “You get a sense of strengths and weaknesses that you can work on and tweak and it gives you a chance to move kids around. It shows us what we have and allows us to make adjustments before playing in the Erk Russell Classic.”
While restrictions have been lifted there are still some reasons to be concerned entering the season. Masks are currently mandatory in Savannah and COVID cases are on the rise again.
“You hope everyone can stay safe, that part is way more important than football,” said Zito. “I feel confident in our school system and the leadership in place. Everyone feels it’s best for kids to be in school whether it’s for hands on learning, the socialization or the routine. If their health or safety is at risk, obviously we have to do what we have to do.”
“We are just going to have to roll with whatever happens,” said Kaiser. “We know there may be more adjustments to be made with what’s going on with the pandemic to make sure everybody is safe. It can be frustrating when we are taking precautions and other schools don’t seem to be. We had over 25 kids out on quarantine during one game and we had opponents on our schedule who had nobody quarantined the entire year. I feel like some folks are following the guidelines to a T, and some are not which is unfortunate.”
Southeast Bulloch will scrimmage Claxton on Friday at 7 p.m. at Fred Shaver Field in Brooklet. Statesboro is scheduled to host Metter August 13 at 7:30 p.m. at Womack Field.