Football practice begins, finally

Posted June 16, 2020 at 12:43 pm


Above, Jared Bertram was called in Monday to help Head Coach Rocky Tallent with a group of 10 players during practice. Tallent said he has to keep his players in groups of 10 and, with the limited number of coaches on his staff, it makes it difficult to have a coach with each group due to the KHSAA guidelines on how fall sports practices should operate.

Below, Assistant Coach Morgan Pence took a group on the other side of the field and put them through conditioning drills on Monday.


A ruling from the KHSAA last week said schools can now start preparing for fall sports for the 2020-2021 season … with restrictions, of course.

Head Football Coach Rocky Tallent brought in his team, starting last week, in hopes of being able to catch up with conditioning to get ready for the upcoming season.

“It will be different,” Rocky said. “Last week was the first week since March 13 that I’ve got to see my players in person. We’ve had some player meetings and done some board work.”

Monday of this week, Tallent was able to take his players outside and put them through drills. He said he is allowed to have around 10 players per coach and each group has to be separated from each other.

“Everybody has to be six feet apart and they don’t have to wear masks of course,” Tallent said. “We are basically doing conditioning right now. Getting them in shape … running them and we are going to do some weight lifting today. It’s not been a normal schedule for them.”

Tallent said the Kentucky High School Athletic Association has plans to meet around June 28 to further evaluate what can and can’t be done in practices for fall sports.

“We will just have to see where we can go from there,” Tallent said.

Even though Tallent has been able to bring his team together, he said it’s been difficult.

“When we did meetings last week, we had to bring them in groups of 10,” Tallent said. “We had to stagger the meetings and disinfect in between meetings. I have to send in my practice plans to the health department for approval.”

Having to bring in players in groups of 10 with one coach per 10 players, Tallent said that has been a difficult task because he doesn’t have the staff to accommodate the numbers he has on the team.

“With the 45 to 46 players we have, generally everybody isn’t going to be here every day, but the four or five groups we have to have we’ve only got three coaches,” Tallent said. “We’ve added Brent Durham this year, but his paperwork hasn’t been approved as of yet, but we are just waiting on that to get back.”

Early in the season, splitting the players up and working on conditioning isn’t that big a deal according to Tallent, however, as it gets closer to season, the guidelines are going to have to change in order to produce a ready football team come mid-August.

“We need to be able to get everybody together,” Tallent said. “We can’t have full contact until August 1, but we can usually have helmets after the dead period in July. With them doing away with the dead period, hopefully we can have helmets by the first of July and start doing some seven on seven, defensive stuff and that sort of thing. Right now we can’t even throw a football, so hopefully we will be able to throw a football and get more involved.”

With opening night of high school football being August 21, Tallent says if restrictions are still in place limiting the team on what it can do in practice, he believes the season could possibly be pushed back.

“If you can’t throw a football and wear helmets by mid-July, kids aren’t going to be ready to play a very physical sport and they could possibly be injured,” Tallent said. “You don’t want to have that. We will just have to wait and see.”

Tallent said he thinks they have two or three different plans as to how the season could play out.

“Best case scenario is we start on time,” Tallent said. “I’ve heard talk of starting in district play, so I don’t know what’s going to happen. We could have a shortened season. I do feel like we will have football though.”

Tallent said he has a smaller senior class this year than he had last year, but it’s still tough for them.

“We had 16 last year and we are sitting around eight to 10 this year,” Tallent said. “The spring sports seniors can tell you, it’s heart wrenching and heartbreaking for them because they have played this sport their whole lives. If they don’t have the chance to play collegiate baseball or anything then their ride is over. It’s just a bad deal for everybody.”

One thing the COVID-19 virus will effect is the team’s ability to attend summer camp.

“Most of the schools that we go to aren’t having any camps,” Tallent said. “A lot of them aren’t even allowing their students on campus. That’s something our incoming freshmen are going to miss out on because they were looking forward to that. Camp is always my favorite time of the year. It’s a good team building experience and you get to know kids better. It’s a good bonding time and we aren’t going to get that this year.”

In order to comply with the KHSAA regulations, Tallent said he has his players in groups of 10 who show up at practice as a group, they get their temperature checked at the door and then are sent to get ready and head out to the field.

Tallent keeps records of everyone’s temperatures and then turns them in to the school board office.

Each group of players will arrive at practice at different times in order to keep those players separated from the rest of the team.

“They know their groups and they will be with those groups everyday,” Tallent said.

Tallent said the temperature record is a safety net in case someone comes up with symptoms, they can trace it back and know exactly who that person has been around.

“If they have a temperature or symptoms we send them home immediately,” Tallent said.

If football is allowed to start its season in the fall, the stands could look a lot different as well.

“I think not having spectators will definitely affect our football team,” Tallent said. “I think we have a program that gets a lot of community support and our players feed off that support in the stands on Friday night. If they don’t allow fans, then it’s going to be different. With football being a full contact sport, it’s going to be hard to keep mommas and dads out of the stands. I can see a couple different scenarios. I can see parents only and I can see a percentage like there is in restaurants right now.”

Tallent said he can also foresee Clinton County schools having a different policy on spectators than other schools in the state, which could make it more difficult on road games during the season.

“Everything is going to be different from week to week,” Tallent said.