Football teams kick off practice seasons

Scott Shankel and his Reed City football team kicked off the practice season on Monday. (Herald Review file photo)

Scott Shankel and his Reed City football team kicked off the practice season on Monday. (Herald Review file photo)

REED CITY - Monday marked the official opening of football practice after what's been a very unusual summer season.

The fall season, if there indeed is one with COVID-19 still taking its toll, is also unlikely to be normal in any regard.

One sign of uniqueness was on Thursday during a weight lifting session for Reed City's football team. The weight room is off the outside entrance way to the gymnasium on the north side of the high school across from the football field.

But Reed City is still in a phase where athletes can't be indoors and the weight room is off limits. So players have been moving weight equipment outdoors in front of the gym entrance and doing their lifting outside.

"We're excited," Reed City coach Scott Shankel said, on Thursday. "It sounds like it's going to be regular football next week with all the guidelines, other than social distancing, when they're not in drills. It's helmets but we hope to add pads as we go. I'm excited. The kids are excited. It will be like real football."

The turnouts "have been consistent all summer long, 30 to 35 kids," Shankel said.

It's been voluntary workouts up until now, but it changed to mandatory starting on Monday.

The COVID pandemic has hit the local sports scene in various ways. While talking about key graduations from last year's team, Evart football coach Pat Craven added:

"Another key loss that no one thinks about are losses from our coaching staff due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Coach Mike Petrongelli is a coaching veteran with over 40 years of head coaching and assistant coaching experience. He is unable to coach at this time due to his doctor's orders and we will greatly miss his experience and work with the kids and our staff. He will continue to do a lot of film work from home this year and be back on the practice and game field next season."

Craven admitted it's been a challenging summer considering the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We are doing all the things that the state of Michigan and MHSAA have allowed during these last few months," he said. "We've learned there isn't any getting around COVID 19. We will do our best to follow all protocols and guidelines put before us and prepare as if this were a normal year. We can only control ourselves and how we react to uncontrollable circumstances."