On Jul. 20, the California Interscholastic Federation announced that the traditional three seasons of high school sports in California would be morphed into two seasons, with one beginning in late December or January and ending in March or April, and another season going from then until late May or June.
Football inherently requires a lot of space to play and usually needs many people to be together in one place, which is a challenge now. Loyola’s football program, however, adapted to the new COVID climate and has been continuing to progress.
Head coach Drew Casani discussed what he and the varsity team did to make this happen.
He said, “We were able to do an online spring practice and install our offense and our defense. We were able to do Zoom [weight]lifting and group [weight]lifting remotely over the summer, so I think we’re in a good spot. But it’s certainly not where we would have been had we been in person.”
Sophomore junior varsity outside linebacker Ryan Hyer explained that they were able to hold meetings to go over the playbook via Zoom.
Already a physically demanding sport, football has an added challenge of scheduling two full seasons in the span of 11 months, assuming schedules are back to normal next fall.
Casani responded, “We’re still looking at how we’re going to approach it depending on when the season ends, [how far they advance in the playoffs]. We’re certainly going to have to shut them down for a period of time, but they also need to be physically ready for the next season. So it’s a delicate balance.”
Varsity football returned to campus to practice after Labor Day, and junior varsity returned a few weeks after that. The freshman team is set to begin practicing in early October. Even though many of the players and coaches are back on campus, COVID-19 restrictions still remain in place. Players must check in before entering campus with a health questionnaire and temperature check and maintain six feet of social distancing. In addition, physical contact, such as tackling, is not permitted. The teams cannot use shared equipment like pop bags or shields used to practice blocking, and a different football has to be used for each wide receiver that the quarterback throws to.
Asked when he expects to return to the pre-COVID type of practices, coach Casani said, “The restrictions are out of our hands. The decisions are up to other people. We’re just going to do what we’re allowed to do and plan to get prepared and be ready. And when they tell us we can do more, we’ll be excited to add that in.”
Though there will be many challenges, Loyola football coaches and players have made it clear that they will be prepared for the upcoming season under any circumstances. Rules must be followed and sacrifices must be made, but the football season will eventually be upon the Loyola community, and the Cubs will be prepared no matter what.