CENTERVILLE — Matt Kovacevich smiles when he thinks about this past week.
Before working with high school players in the late afternoon and evening during the annual Centerville football camp, Kovacevich and his staff have worked with youth football players during the mornings this past week. The 2020 Big Red Football ‘FUN’damental Football Camp brought players in grades 4-8 out to participate in drills designed to teach the basics of the sport.
Nothing, however, is basic about how any activity has been handled since this past March. The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has required a lot of extra work to make sure all participants are protected, as much as possible, from COVID-19.
“We had really good numbers and great participation, but it was very tough difficult to keep the kids from following some of the guidelines. I don’t envy some of the grade school teachers when school starts back up,” Kovacevich joked.
For the most part, being back out teaching the game of football to students was the happy tradeoff for Kovacevich and his staff. Players that are preparing to take part in the high school football season are getting an idea what to expect both in terms of on-field execution and how to handle the guidelines in place to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.
“We’re doing a lot more cleaning than we’ve done in the past. We’re sanitizing the footballs. We’re sanitizing any tackle dummies that use during drills. We’re even sanitizing ourselves constantly using wipes and hand sanitizer throughout the camps,” Kovacevich said. “The water situation is probably what’s been the biggest thing. Usually, we’ve had managers come around and give kids bottles of water or we use the water spickets. Now, we’ve got kids with gallon jugs that have their names on them that they have to bring to keep themselves hydrated.
“It’s always concerning when you’re dealing with this pandemic. We’re doing everything we can to make sure everyone is as safe as possible.”
Centerville is one of many schools that chose to held a football camp this past week despite the concerns with ongoing coronavirus pandemic. While the staff made sure to have all extra measures in place to be as safe as possible, there was still the possibility that numbers would diminish greatly with parents choosing not to let their children participate.
“We had about 60 kids participate this year in the high school camp. For a 2A football team, that’s not too bad,” Kovacevich said. “With the situation going on and some kids opting not to go out for football, I’d say we were pretty solid this year in terms of turnout.”
That’s an encouraging sign for the Big Reds with the first official week of practice for the upcoming high school football season set to begin on Monday. Centerville is set to hit the ground running having locked in ‘The Pennant Game” against Davis County for the season opener on Friday, Aug. 28.
“It actually wasn’t that hard to lock down our entire seven-game schedule. We’ll have Davis County and Fort Madison in the two non-district weeks with the remaining final five weeks looking the same as before. It probably took 30 minutes to get our schedule set,” Kovacevich said. “You always want to keep those rivalry games in tact. I think everything is going to run pretty smoothly, much like we saw with baseball and softball this summer. Kids are able to adapt. Coaches are able to adapt. I don’t think it should be a big hindrance as long as you can keep healthy and stay healthy. If we can do that, the season can go off without a hitch.”
While there will be some modifications that will continue to be made as practices start next week, Kovacevich for one is ready to get the 2020 high school football season going. Big Red players seemed just as eager at camp, rooting on teammates in various drills including the final run up and down the practice field from sideline to sideline.
“When August rolls around, it’s football team. I think that’s how everyone from the players to the coaches feel about it,” Kovacevich said. “There are some things we’ll have to do that will be a little different, but we’re pretty good about rolling with the punches. We’ve been able to do what we need to do to get the job done.”