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 Holtville coach Jason Franklin against Prattville Christian in spring game.

After nearly three months away from campus, the Holtville football team returned to the school Monday morning only to be welcomed by some rainy weather. After dealing with a few extra hurdles during the newly-instated screening process for student-athletes, the rain subsided and the Bulldogs got to work as planned to begin their summer training period. 

“It made for an adventure this morning,” Holtville coach Jason Franklin said. “Luckily for us, we had enough areas to spread people out. We still had a good plan established and I think we had a really productive day.”

Franklin said the focus was on getting some time in the weight room while also doing some conditioning before really getting to work on any football drills on the field. Despite the limited activities, the players made the most of being back together.

“It went really good,” Holtville quarterback Braxton Buck said. “There was a lot of good intensity and I think if we keep on track, we will have a really good season.”

Buck and the rest of the senior class led the way on the first day of practice. Franklin said he was never worried about the work the players were putting in on their own because they know what it takes to get ready for the fall.

“I’m extremely proud of our first group of older guys,” Franklin said. “They didn’t miss a beat. I could tell they took advantage of those home workouts. The younger guys struggled a little bit. That was to be expected though. Right now, it’s about getting back in the groove of things. You can bring them back into it slowly.”

There will be a few extra challenges to deal with this summer due to the AHSAA’s latest guidelines to limit the spread of COVID-19. 

Holtville split into groups throughout the morning to get work done, spreading the team between the weight room and the field. Before the team got back to the school, the coaching staff made some changes to the gym, moving equipment to provide more space for each group to work out.

“We had put all of the guidelines across our social media and put it over everything,” Franklin said. “The rain caused the only hiccup in the screening. It was no problem keeping that stuff in check though. Everyone would clean their own equipment before the next group would come in. It worked out really well.”

During the conditioning period, players were told to spread out on marks that had been painted on the field to show the distance needed between each player. The excitement level can sometimes overshadow the changes that need to take place but the players know they have to focus on the work and the safety concerns to get ready for August.

“We want to work out together and all be in the same group but we can’t so that’s been a change for sure,” Buck said. “It’s not too big of a difference but we have some minor things to work on. It’s not our normal routine but it gets the job done. We have to make sure everything is being done correctly.”

Caleb Turrentine is a sports writer for Tallapoosa Publishers Inc.