OXNARD, Calif. - High school football is back in Ventura County.
Practice for the Oxnard Union High School District began on Wednesday for the first time this school year.
Originally players were supposed to start on Monday, but due to the poor air quality from the Southland fires, conditioning got pushed back until Wednesday. “Man we can’t go inside because of COVID, and we can’t go outside because of the air," said Mike Moon, who is the head football coach at Pacifica High School. "What is a kid suppose to do in 2020.”
Practice will look a lot different this time around due to COVID-19 protocols.
The Oxnard Union High School district says it has drafted a safe return plan for fall athletics workouts in which all the high schools in the district have to follow.
The district is calling it phase one. In this phase, coaches will separate players in different different pods. There is to be no more than 14 players in each pod.
“The students can’t mix, meaning they can’t rotate to different stations,” said Dr. Tom McCoy, interim superintendent at Oxnard Union High School District. “They will stay with one coach the whole time. It is all outdoors, and there will be no equipment, so it is just physical exercise.”
“We are going to work really hard and use this phase one to get them back in shape,” said Moon.
Before practice, players have to check in with trainers and are asked a series of COVID questions. Temperatures are checked at the gate. Players with high temperatures will not be allowed to practice. For many players and coaches Wednesday was their first time meeting each other.
“This school year has been different and they didn’t get to know their classmates like they have in the past, so this is a way for them to get to know each other and to get going with the school year,” said Jim Bittner, who is the head football coach at Rio Mesa High School.
“We have a few players who’s parents weren’t comfortable, and we are ok with that," said Jon Mack, who is the new head football coach at Hueneme High School, "Those boys are training on their own.”
According to CIF-Southern Section, practice won’t officially start until Dec. 14, and Week 1 games are set for Jan. 8.