Chipley and Marianna football teams anticipate the coming of fall on Monday

Published: Aug. 23, 2020 at 9:30 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG) -Chipley High School is one of many schools that will begin their fall sports practice August 24th, and head football coach, Blake Wilson, is ready to get his guys geared up for the season. He says the extra time in summer ball gave them a chance to take advantage of opportunities they may not have had otherwise.

“It gave us a lot of extra time to spend, especially, with the young kids coming up from eighth grade and ninth grade. We spent a lot more time with those and were able to do that. We were also able to spend more time in the weight room versus if we had started early, then, you would have had the weight room when school starts, and you have 50 minutes. The bell rings, all that. We were just able to spend more time in the weight room and the kids had pretty good days in the summer with that extra time just on the positive side,” said Wilson.

He added he is hoping that everyone can stay safe as the fall starts so they get as close as they can to a normal season.

“We hope we get to play more than one game, and I know everyone around, including us, has been going through the protocols and keeping everyone safe. They’re breaking kids up into groups when they’re supposed to early. Hopefully, we can continue to do that and all the right things are done at practice and school where we can continue to make the season go forward. That’s what everyone would like to see. I hope it happens. I know the kids do,” said Wilson.

Another team anticipating August 24th is the Marianna Bulldogs. They are set to gear up as well and begin their fall practice. With the constant change of schedule, teams are faced with a short turnaround time from fall practice in pads to the official start of the season, and Marianna head football coach, John Donaldson, says they will be adjusting with extra effort.

“It’ll be some longer windows of time that we will have to spend each day to get it all done. We’ve done a great job, and the coaches have done a great job to get everything done that we can get done. We will have to hit the ground and make every day count. There’s a lot of logistics that we have to work out too as far as using our facilities, so you have to take some guesses on how long it is going to take you to do certain processes. It’s going to be interesting,” said Donaldson

He went on to say this season is especially important for those upperclassmen.

“For a lot of them, it’s a lifelong goal. They started playing many years ago. They’ve invested a lot of sweat equity into what they’ve done, and this is when it’s supposed to pay off for them. For many of them, they lost their whole spring season with track, baseball, or whatever it was, so it makes it so much more special. You only get to do it once as a senior, so it is important,” said Donaldson.

Coach Donaldson added that these last two weeks before they open are essential because a player can look totally different in shorts and a shirt compared to full pads, so he is anticipating this as a reveal of what his team can do for the season.

“If you had asked me a month ago, I didn’t think we would be here, so the kids are excited and have worked hard. To get back to some sort of normalcy will be great. There were a tremendous amount of obstacles to get through this summer and things we have had to do to remain safe, and we have a lot of that ahead of us still. It’s just that there’s only so much stuff you can do without pads, and they’re so much room for improvement when you do get them on that there’s a lot to be done in a short period of time to be able to play,” said Donaldson.

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