ROCHESTER and GRAND MEADOW, Minn. (KTTC) - Playing football in the times of coronavirus is a complex problem without a clear solution.
"We want to do this," said Century Head Coach Jon Vik. "We want to be able to be out here, we want to be able to do it safely, just not exactly sure how we're going to do it at this point."
One thing is for sure -- this will be a football season unlike any other. In a sport that prides itself on its discipline and preparation, football coaches have had to re-invent themselves this offseason.
"I think the you've just got to adapt to it," said Lourdes Head Coach Mike Kesler. "Really, you just have to be more organized than probably in the past, and really think things through. How you're going to get through practice, what kind of equipment you can share, if any. There's a lot of unknowns yet."
Last week, the Department of Health rolled out new recommendations for youth sports, but the MSHSL could impose stricter guidelines on it's member schools. Coaches hope they can have full summer workouts, but if they don't, they'll adjust.
"I'd like to be able to have some summer practices, but I've been at this for a long time," said Grand Meadow Head Coach Gary Sloan. "I remember back in the days where we didn't have anything in the summer and we were just fine then, so we'll adapt and make do the best we can."
An idea floated at the NFL and college level is a facemask that fits around a helmet, but it's unclear if it could effectively contain the virus from spreading.
"It's respiratory, of course, the virus is, but you're still in full contact with people," said Vik. "You're tackling, you've got spit and everything else that comes when a person gets tackled, and is breathing really heavy with what they're doing, so I don't know if that facemask is necessarily going to fix it."
But one thing is clear -- players and coaches alike want to get back on the field.
"I've been looking forward to this next season since our last game," said Century running back Isaiah Huber. "This is everything for us, and it would be a shame if we didn't get to go out there and perform."
"Hopefully, we can get back under the lights on Friday night," Kesler said. "Who knows what the progress is going to be the rest of the summer, but I know myself and our staff and all the coaches I've talked to across the state, not just down in Southeast Minnesota, are really anxious to get out there."