high school football:

Kids will do anything to play’: Prep teams in Vegas return to practice

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Christopher DeVargas

Las Vegas High football coach Erick Capetillo trains his team during an early morning practice Tuesday, July 7, 2020.

Tue, Jul 7, 2020 (2 a.m.)

This certainly wasn’t a typical first day of high school football practice in Las Vegas.

The weights in the training room were constantly being disinfected to help limit the COVID-19 spread, players and coaches were decked out in face coverings, and there were limits on the number of participants in training groups.

Was it chaotic at times? Absolutely. The new normal, after all, will take some getting used to. But at least it was practice with the eye on a bigger prize: A potential season come mid-August.

“We are constantly telling the kids they can only control today,” Las Vegas coach Erick Capetillo said. “We can’t control the future, but today they let us practice and reaching that point was pretty awesome.”

Many teams gathered for the first sanctioned activity since coronavirus closures in mid-March brought a sudden end to the spring season. Parents had to sign a waiver saying they understood the COVID-19 risk. They also had to perform a wellness exam on their child checking for a fever or other coronavirus signs.

A COVID-19 test wasn’t required.

Only 50 players were allowed on the field at once. Meeting room and training groups were limited to sets of 10.

The district made the decision to allow practices on Sunday afternoon and issued guidance on safety protocols. Then it was a mad rush to get the information to the children, knowing the quality of the practice was a secondary concern to staying safe from the virus.

“Today was a typical Day One,” Arbor View coach Matt Gerber said. “There were some good things and some things we will have to work on. We are going with the flow and excited to get back to work.”

Arbor View had the maximum 50 players at both its varsity and junior varsity workouts. Other programs also reported near-capacity crowds. Capetillo said it was important not to be a taskmaster initially as the children eased into a routine.

The only thing he was a stickler on was following safety standards, which had to be approved by the Clark County School District. It took time to get up to speed — for instance, face coverings weren't required outdoors; but a must inside.

“Whatever we have to do to get back on the field, let’s do it,” Capetillo said. “The kids will do anything to play.”

Many teams venture out of state in June for summer camp, but those plans were all shelved because of the pandemic. Instead, they were replaced by virtual meetings.

At Arbor View, it was an hour of offensive game-planning followed by an hour of defensive strategy on most days. The players followed a workout regime in the safety of their own home or nearby park.

“We didn’t want to start from square one,” Gerber said. “What we missed on the field, we made up for in the knowledge of why we are doing certain things.”

The first day showed that some players followed the workout plan closely. Others not so much — which is expected.

Whether a season goes off as planned is anyone’s guess. Opening night is Aug. 14.

But, first, the state has to move to the third phase of its reopening, and that’s not scheduled to happen until at least Aug. 1. Also, the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association has to give its approval to start play.

The possibility of a delayed or missed season was constantly asked by players of the coaches, all of whom are also waiting on guidance.

“My answer to the kids was we are going to push forward until they tell us otherwise,” Green Valley coach Brian Castro said.

The Gators are scheduled to play Desert Oasis Aug. 14. Arbor View has the luxury of not playing until Aug. 27.

“It’s definitely going to be different this year,” Gerber said.

Ray Brewer can be reached at 702-990-2662 or [email protected]. Follow Ray on Twitter at twitter.com/raybrewer21

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