Boonville Pirates football coach Greg Hough will be the first to admit that he didn’t know what to expect of his three camps in July.
After what has plagued the country the last five months with COVID-19, Hough felt if he made it through one camp that would be better than none.
But as it turned out, the Boonville Pirates football team went 3-for-3 in camps with no problems.
While spending the better part of June working solely on conditioning, Hough said the kids would come in in the morning, get their temperature checked and then go through a lot of documentation such as who traveled outside of the area. However, he said once they moved to July they weren’t temperature checking but as a football staff were encouraging facemasks and face covers.
"When they are physically active and moving, they don’t have to wear a mask,"Hough said. "However, if I talk to them or the coaches talk to the kids, we just simply put it up and cover our face."
With 70 kids running through the morning workouts, Hough said he had pretty much the entire team participate along with 10 athletes that weren’t involved in football. Then, after going through morning workouts, Hough said the football players would get about a 30 minute break and then they would go into camp once it got to July.
In the three July camps, Hough said the turnout has been good with approximately 63 kids participating.
"It’s been a collective group effort to keep our kids safe and keep us going," Hough said. "The parents have been good, too. It’s taken a lot of communication."
As for camp, Hough said the first week was just basic fundamental stuff. He said the coaches basically allowed the kids to do a variety of different things so they could kind of see where they thought they would be putting the kids. In week 2, he said the coaches and players started doing a little more football specific to each kid’s position.
"We started installing scheme-wise offensively and defensively and then this week we were able to continue the install but also a lot of rep and review,"Hough said. "If we had to play a game we could play a game right now, but more than anything we just focused on our fundamentals and things like that."
Despite the curveballs that have been thrown at the players and coaches this summer, Hough said everybody has just tried to spin it into a positive. With no weight room work all summer, Hough said he doesn’t feel like the team has lost anything.
And with camp just completing last Thursday before another five days of Dead Week, Hough said the kids have enjoyed themselves and the morale seems to be up.
"I hate it ever having to cancel anything just because, to be real honest, every time we’re together it’s a blessing and that’s something the kids understand. I canceled one day the night before and it ended up not raining, and a lot of the kids said coach let’s not cancel let’s postpone so that was kind of like today. I think that says a lot about where we’re at with our team and where we’re at with our program."
Now only days away from starting fall practice on Monday, August 10, Hough said they will probably have more curveballs thrown their way with the heat. He said the first five days MSHSAA controls what you can do and what you can wear.
However, he said the team will come back on August 10 and get back into their strength and conditioning stuff.
"We will probably rep and review the first two days and then we should be moving forward," Hough said. "However, there have been a lot of things that has made us do things differently. At the end of this year I’m probably going to look back at some of the things I did because of the covid guidelines. Honestly, it’s probably better than what we have done in the past. I think our young kids have progressed really well with our summer stuff and a lot of that is some things were slowed down and some things were simplified."
The good news in that three weeks of camp, Hough said the football team had no positive tests of COVID-19. He said the team stayed good the whole time.
Hough added that when you have 70 kids in 3-4 days a week and have kids all over the place playing basketball and kids all over the place playing baseball, they were kind of lucky and fortunate.
"The kids look to us as coaches to give them an answer,"Hough said. "We really don’t have an answer, but like I said no matter what happens and I even told the kids today the worse case scenario is they cancel our season. Will that be hard? Yes.
"That will be extremely hard but I told the kids today I promised them the four months that we consider football we are going to leave it better. Even if we don’t have our season I will find a way to continue to work with these kids physically and mentally to turn a negative into a positive and be better."
As to whether there will be a season or not, Hough said he didn’t know. He said the players and coaches will prepare until somebody says no.
"I don’t know what to believe," Hough said. "It’s out of our control. We are going to control what we can control and we can’t control that. I challenge our kids when they get here to have the best day of their lives because truly it’s a blessing. We are leaving today not knowing if we are coming back on August 10. That sucks. That’s probably the hardest thing, but our kids are doing good."
If it wasn’t enough that the players and coaches have been thrown enough curveballs during the off-season, the Jamboree on August 21 has been cancelled due to COVD-19.
Hough said that is just one of those things. He said you look at how your whole life is lived right now and the word used is essential. The Jamboree is not essential for the football season, Hough said.
"Not having a Jamboree allows you review and take your time and then you have a week and then another week before you are in Week 1."
For the first three weeks of the season, Boonville will be home for three straight games with Pleasant Hill on August 28, Holden on September 4 and Southern Boone on September 11.
Hough said he is worried about all the stuff going on in Kansas City right now. He said Lexington just shut down and then in Lafayette County you have Higginsville. "You worry about the ball kind of rolling,"Hough said. "It’s going to be crazy."