When the first football workout of the summer ended for Stanhope Elmore last Tuesday, things looked a little bit different outside of the football stadium. There were less cars in the parking lot and there was not a group of high school kids in site.
The Mustangs’ coaches were the only ones that remained on site after just a couple of minutes as the last thing they shouted to the players was to go straight to their cars and go home. It was just another way the coaching staff was pushing the envelope to ensure their players are following the AHSAA’s guidelines.
“It’s hard,” Stanhope Elmore senior Carter Harrison said. “We’re always cheering on each other and everybody is so close in our program but we always have to think about being 6 feet apart. Like (last week), I was working out next to a buddy and I was going to go push him and hype him up but I couldn’t do that. It’s a little aggravating but we’ll get used to it.”
Harrison’s experience was not unlike many high school football players over the past week as orders of “Six feet!” were barked by coaches across the state. However, despite all the new concerns, the Mustangs were just happy to be back together and on the field.
“They got sent home for spring break and never got to come back,” Stanhope Elmore coach Brian Bradford said. “They just want to have some sort of normal life so to get to come back here where everyone cares about everybody and everybody loves to be here, they are so excited about this.”
The Mustangs brought players in by position groups to start the summer and held new players until the second week of workouts. That allowed Bradford to make sure his leaders knew what was going on and gave the coaching staff a better look at what workouts were going to look like moving forward.
“I was a little worried about the procedures but it has gone great,” Bradford said. “We wanted to work on establishing the roles and establishing the guidelines. We had to teach them a new way to practice. These kids know what’s at stake and they want to do what’s right so we can make it to the season.”
As for the setup, the Mustangs started with the basics as they focused on getting everyone back in shape before going all out in the summer heat. In the weight room, the team limited some of the lifts as opposed to what it would be doing if players were working out together for the last three months.
“It wasn’t really tough but it was just trying to get used to it again,” Harrison said. “It was challenging to get back into the lifting of the weights but those in-home workouts that (defensive coordinator Hunter) Adams sent to us were really helpful.”
On the conditioning side, Bradford said each position group ran some sprints together. Although he didn’t push the Mustangs as hard as he wants to in the future, Bradford said he could tell who had been running on their own during the time off.
“We’ll get there but this is a good indicator for them,” Bradford said. “They may realize they haven’t done enough and may need to get out of the house a little bit more. We’ve got a good group and they have done a lot on their own but you can only push yourself so hard but when you’re around your teammates, it’s a whole different level.”