ALBANY – Albany football coach Mike Janis realizes the different time we live in thanks to the novel coronavirus, but he also realizes his team has been ready to get back to playing the game for a while.
That, however, won’t happen for at least a bit longer after Gov. John Bel Edwards’ order to extend Phase II of the state’s reopening days Friday.
“I’ll be honest, I don’t know if the kids understand what the different phases are tremendously,” Janis said. “I think some of them get it, but they really haven’t asked yet, and I’m sure they will ask what it means, but it just means more of the same. They’ve been ready to get back and play football since the beginning. They were ready to go into spring football when we got sent out of school. They were ready to come back when we were doing Zoom meetings. They just want to play football. That’s what’s important to them right now, and that’s what they care about, so Phase I, II, III, it doesn’t matter to them. The question they’re going to ask (is) ‘when can we play?’”
Livingston Parish schools began summer workouts on June 9 after school campuses were closed statewide in March and Janis said his team has adjusted to some of the guidelines required by the Livingston Parish Public School System, including temperature checks, checking in and out before and after workouts and cleaning equipment during workouts, to name a few.
“I think it’s kind of routine now with the kids,” Janis said. “They understand what they need to do just monitoring everybody’s health to make sure as a team we’re healthy and taking precautions when we need to and making sure the facility is clean.”
The Hornets are planning to add a few new wrinkles offensively this season with the addition of Carmon Moore to the staff, and Janis said the teaching and learning process, which started during the time off via Zoom meetings, will continue.
“It’s something we’ll continue to do, but when you’re dealing with high school kids, you really have to teach it in three phases,” Janis said. “You’ve got to show it to them, and we’ve presented that information. We’ve got them watching a lot of film of other teams. And then you’ve got to go out and you’ve got to almost choreograph it for them and let them go through the dance, if we call it that, and walk through it and run through and do that repeatedly. And then you’ve got to put all the pieces together and have them in full team setting go out and do it again. It’s going to take a little time before they really grasp it and understand it. We can write on the whiteboard all we want, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re going to really understand what we’re trying to do. It helps tremendously to get out and be able to do it in a team setting.”
Janis, however, isn’t looking at that as a negative.
“I think if we were the only team in this situation, it would be a negative, but everybody else in high school football is dealing with the same thing right now,” Janis said. “Even though it’s frustrating and we would love to be able to get those things done, we understand that precautions need to be taken, and we understand what needs to happen so that we can have a football season. If we need to make sure everybody’s safe and take those precautions and not do those things right now so we can play football in the fall, then we’re willing to do that.”
“We would love to get into Phase III and be able to work some team elements,” Janis continued. “Based on my understanding, we were going to be able to go offense vs. defense, do some stuff like that, and we can’t do that right now. That’s the biggest part of it, just moving into the overall full scheme of things and lining up and how we’re doing all that stuff, but we’ll just keep on doing what we’re doing for right now and continue to try to get our guys in shape.”
The earliest the state would be able to move into Phase III would be July 24, but Edwards said the state will continue to monitor trends with the coronavirus before taking a “deep dive” in 14 days to determine how the state is faring at that point.
Janis said staying in Phase II for 28 days could present a new set of challenges when it comes to athletics.
“Once we move into Phase III, can we begin playing? I know there is limited groups of 50,” Janis said. “There’s a lot of teams out there with more than 50 players. How’s that going to work if we’re still in Phase III when school starts? There’s a lot of questions still to be answered, and the longer we stay in Phase II, that pushes us into Phase III when school starts, and I don’t know, do we need to be out of Phase III and fully back before we can have a regular season? Can we do that in Phase III and how (is it) going to look? There’s just a lot of questions and a lot of unknown right now, and I know that we’re not going to play football in Phase II, so the longer we stay in this, the more concerning it is about the future of our season.”
At the same time, Janis was understanding as to why the state is remaining in Phase II.
“We understand what it is and we understand the risk involved,” Janis said, noting Moore just marked his 75th birthday. “We’re taking every safety precaution we can in the weight room, and we understand why we’re still in Phase II, but like I said before, these kids care about playing football and that’s what they’re interested in.”