Coaches ponder fall season with no football
REED CITY - Reed City football coach Scott Shankel could barely stand the thought:
No Friday night fall football for the first time anybody can practically remember.
"I guess we'll just have to go, sit in the stands and visualize what might have been," he said.
Shankel was reacting to the MHSAA announcement on Friday it was switching football to the spring because of the coronavirus pandemic.
"At the end of the day, we did everything we could to find a path forward for football this fall," MHSAA Executive Director Mark Uyl said in a statement. "But while continuing to connect with the Governor's office, state health department officials, our member schools' personnel and the Council, there is just too much uncertainty and too many unknowns to play football this fall."
Teams like Reed City had been conducting summer conditioning workouts and had four days of practice last week. They were scheduled to be in pads (Aug. 17).
"I' m disappointed. It's not going to be the same this fall without football," Shankel said. "Every year you look forward to it. It's a great way to kick the school year off. It's going to be tough not to be able to play. I'm disappointed, not just for our boys and players, especially the seniors, but also the community and kids in the school.
"It will be the first time in a long time I'm not in a football stadium during the fall. It's been 22 or 23 years."
"We were ready to head out to the practice field (on Friday) when the email came through," Evart football coach Pat Craven said. "We're disappointed. Our kids had a great first week of practice. We had a good summer.
"Our kids were looking forward to getting out and compete. We're disappointed. We'll take the cards dealt to us and make a giant positive out of it."
As for the meantime, "they didn't provide us with much detail except football to the spring. The press release told us they would provide more detail on what we're able to do with our student-athletes in the fall," Craven said.
Pine River's Terry Martin said his players were "pretty disappointed. Had this announcement been a week ago, it would have been a lot easier to swallow. We just finished up a great week of practice and were excited about things going forward and all the excitement the high school football season brings. To get the unexpected announcement that it's done, that was pretty hard for a lot of the boys to swallow.
"I am glad it's a postponement and it looks like they're trying to put in a lot of effort to have a spring season. There's probably a better chance of finishing an entire season in the spring. The emotion of the day has definitely been disappointment."
A major thought now is what players can do in the meantime. A fall version of spring football has been discussed.
"We're hoping there's something, obviously even without games there's still a lot of benefit of kids being around high school sports, and hopefully we'll still be allowed to have some aspect of that," Martin said.
He added there's the possibility boys could run cross country or join the coed soccer team this fall. Football is listed as a high risk sport, which is why it's moving to the spring. Cross country is a low risk sport and has the greenlight to start the fall season. Soccer is a medium risk category sport along with volleyball. The MHSAA said it would determine the future of the medium risk sports by Wednesday.
"We hope that's an option," Martin said of his players going into other sports. "I told the kids Friday we have a dual sport opportunity. When we get the announcement on the 19th of what we can do, we'd love to have them go out and represent their school and compete in other venues."
Shankel is also waiting to hear the MHSAA on what players can or can't do.
"I'm obviously anxious to get into the weight room with them again," Shankel said, "and use that time, and take advantage of the nice weather and do whatever we can. We'll try to figure something out and keep our kids busy."
Like Pine River, Reed City also offers cross country and soccer.
"We'd be happy to see some of our kids go and play other sports," Shankel said. "I'm not going to tell them not to. They're kids, I want them active. I had a couple kids immediately go over and talk about playing soccer."
Evart also offers cross country.