By Tim Peterson
In a local high school game last Friday night the quarterback scrambled to his right, beat the corner to the edge and began to head up field. And just as he was ready to break away he dropped the ball…no defender around…he just dropped it and the opponent recovered.
Earlier in the contest a defensive lineman jumped offside. After the official moved the ball up five yards, the quarterback barked out the signals on the next play and the lineman jumped offside again. Same lineman, same penalty.
In a game a couple of weeks ago a quarterback threw a strike that was complete over the middle. The only problem was that it was complete to the guy wearing the other jersey. It didn’t hurt them though because the opposing quarterback threw an interception on the very next play.
Welcome to Spring football post COVID-19 style where interceptions, fumbles and penalties are the order of the day. Bad snaps are followed by shanked punts. If a punt is executed correctly its usually mishandled by the returning team. In a Thursday night game last week the kicking team recovered the ball on consecutive kickoffs. And they weren’t even onside kicks.
The officials are still trying to shake off the cobwebs as well. It took them 15 minutes last week after huddling several times to figure out the proper placement of the ball.
Is this a surprise? No, absolutely not. The players haven’t been in an actual game for over 15 months. There were no 7 on 7 passing leagues, no regulated workout sessions and for some schools very few practices. Miscues and errors are to be expected. Even the basic fundamentals are lost when they haven’t been drilled into the players for the previous six months. Remember in a normal year players have been working out since March for a season opener in late August.
Several coaches have told me that they are using this spring season as they would spring practices during a normal year. The difference is when a player makes a mistake now they’re in full helmets and pads in a live game against an actual opponent, instead of in shirts and shorts in front of their own team on a practice field.
With no playoffs in an abbreviated season would it really matter if your team went 0-5? Sure you want to win, it’s the competitive nature in all of us, but if the five games are used for a spring board or a training period for the season that begins in August, it could be beneficial.
I’m glad they’re back on the field. Especially for the seniors that will be putting on the uniform for the last time. I’m happy for the coaches that have been working hard since the pandemic started to make it happen and actually get to work with their teams in game situations. We all are. So don’t get upset when you see a turnover, an untimely penalty, or a poorly executed play.
It’s the way this season is going to be. Welcome to Spring football, 2021.
That’s my principle.
I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @tspeterson40.