On a cloudy and overcast day, members of the Paris Eagles football program were out early in the morning lifting weights and performing endurance and agility drills. The dedicated group of high school football players and their coaches were glad to be back at “practice”, albeit in a limited and restricted fashion. Both players and coaches could be seen wearing masks and making deliberate efforts to maintain social distancing during the workout. Resident Press wanted to give our readers an opportunity to see what high school sports look like now amid the many COVID-19 restrictions that have been mandated by the Arkansas Activities Association (AAA) and the Governor’s Office.
Due to the restrictions placed on practices by the AAA, I was not able to enter the workout facility or the practice field. Photos were taken from a distance using a telephoto lens and were taken from outside the stadium. The Eagles are making the most of the current circumstances to resume conditioning drills and weight workouts in hopes of team practices resuming after June 30. Arkansas governor, Asa Hutchinson, announced earlier that he would “revisit” contact sports such as football and the possibility of their resumption.
The Eagles are scheduled to open the 2020 senior high football season on August 28 when they host the Lavaca Golden Arrows. In a typical summer, the AAA has a mandatory two week dead period in which no contact is allowed with athletes. That dead period is usually the last week in June and the first week in July. Teams are usually returning to summer workouts, seven-on-seven scrimmages, and other preparations around July 7. So, if high school teams are released to practice by June 30, teams would be back on schedule for summer preparations leading into the start of the season in late August. Of course, all of this remains to be seen. The remaining weeks in June and the month of July will be ample time for either the successful return to sports in August, or, plenty of time for COVID-19 positive tests to increase in number and jeopardize the start of the season. Arkansas high school coaches have no choice but to take what is given to them at this point and prepare with what they are allowed to do as if the season is going to start as scheduled.
Resident Press will stay with this story as it develops throughout the summer leading into the possible start of the high school season. RP will cover all fall sports at Paris High School as they attempt to prepare for the upcoming seasons under the restrictions placed upon them by the AAA due to the COVID-19 virus. In the meantime, you have to admire the dedication of our athletes who are running and working out with masks, and coaches who are organizing their limited practice times to gain every second of preparation from the short times that are allowed by AAA. It is not where everyone wants to be, but it is certainly better than sitting at home.
The Paris football field scoreboard is off, and Eagles fans are hoping that it will light up on August 28 to kickoff the first game of the upcoming season. And from all of us at Resident Press, our hopes and prayers are with our great high school athletes and coaches. Here is to our hopes for a great high school football season.