Verlis Smith set his alarm clock for 4:30 a.m. on Sept. 22.
“I didn’t want to be late for practice,” he said.
Smith and returning and prospective members of Ceres High School’s football program resumed strength and conditioning workouts this past week following a two-plus-month long break due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“The most enjoyable part was being back out there on the practice field with my team,” said Smith, a junior receiver/cornerback. “They’re family.”
Smith and Co. trained before school, from 6-8 a.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
“I like practicing in the morning,” Smith said. “It’s cooler outside and you get the rest of the day off after going to school.”
“It’s discipline,” he added. “I understand why the coaches are doing it. I love it. It shows which guys are committed to the team and making a change to the program.”
“We’re happy to be back,” junior quarterback Bryce Piatt stated. “It’s a step in the right direction.”
Smith said at least 50 players attended the workouts.
They did conditioning drills, including 40-yard dashes, along with ladder and cone work.
Players separated into position groups for individual instruction.
They also received team instruction on both offense and defense.
“You could tell which guys were and not in shape,” Smith stated. “Most of our team put in work during quarantine with the weeks we went without practicing.”
“Everybody is excited,” Piatt said. “Everybody is buying into the belief that we can win games.”
Central Valley’s football program staged its workouts, from 3:30-5 p.m., on Sept. 21 and Sept. 23.
“It was exciting. The most memorable part was being with my team. It’s a brotherhood.”Isaiah Hidalgo
“It was exciting,” senior running back Isaiah Hidalgo said. “The most memorable part was being with my team. It’s a brotherhood.”
Hidalgo and Co. ran six 200s on the school’s track on Monday.
They also did pushups, situps, crunches and leg lifts.
They completed a burpee/sprint cardio workout on Wednesday.
They did ladder drills as well to improve their speed, agility, quickness and footwork.
“I’m proud of the guys,” Hidalgo said. “Most of us are in shape.”
Bulldog and Hawk players weren’t required to wear masks at practice.
“We were allowed to take them off because there was social distancing,” Piatt said. “Coach is really big on that. We did a good job taking it serious and staying safe.”
“When we got there, we had masks on,” Hidalgo stated. “We took them off and spaced out. We were never in close contact.”
“We want the pandemic to stop,” Smith added.
The California Interscholastic Federation condensed three seasons of athletics—fall, spring and winter—into two after announcing plans on July 22 to delay the start of the prep sports season until December or January due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 2020 football campaign will get underway on Jan. 8.
Ceres High and Central Valley will place West and Pitman, respectively.
“We’ll be ready for the season,” Smith said.