‘In limbo’

Football coaches react to news

Posted 9/10/20

By ALEX SPONSELLER In last week's latest announcement by the state and Rhode Island Interscholastic League, it was made official that football and volleyball would not be played during this fall. There are still any questions regarding the future of

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‘In limbo’

Football coaches react to news


By ALEX SPONSELLER In last week’s latest announcement by the state and Rhode Island Interscholastic League, it was made official that football and volleyball would not be played during this fall.

There are still any questions regarding the future of these sports in Rhode Island, and much uncertainty to go with it.

As of this moment, the league hopes to include the two sports in its third season which will take place between traditional winter and spring - March and April. Although this is the hope, nothing is official, and it looks as though there are still a handful of hurdles to overcome before these sports return to action.

“I’m disappointed just like I’m sure everyone else is. Especially the seniors, you feel for them. But everyone understands why fall football has been cancelled, for the sake of the players, the coaches, those who go to the games. It’s disappointing, it was a different summer for all of us not having football,” said Toll Gate head football coach Jim Stringfellow. “We are going to play whenever we’re allowed to, whether it be March, April, May, but it’s hard to plan since we still just don’t know … everything is in limbo.”

Although coaches and players would prefer to play the normal, full slate of games in fall, local reaction was not all negative regarding the news, especially considering the late start Warwick schools would have had due to there being no summer workouts in the city.

“(There are advantages), especially for schools in Warwick that were not able to practice at all this summer. Had we been playing in a few weeks, we would have been behind the 8-ball because we would have only three weeks to install everything and prepare the kids. There are rules already with how many days on, how many off, days will full pads, contact, scrimmages. We would not have been able to just jump right into everything with only two or three weeks,” said Stringfellow. 

Pilgrim head football coach Blake Simpson added: “I figured that the news was going to eventually come out, it was just a matter of when. From that point, I was just relieved because this extra season actually helps us. We haven’t been able to practice so these extra few months will hopefully give us time to catch up to schools that have been.”

The two biggest issues that came up regarding a potential March-April season were field conditions as well as college recruiting, which is usually completed by December and January. 

March and April often have less than ideal field conditions, sometimes including snow, and now Division I and II college programs will have to adjust to the new schedule.

“This is a college problem. As a college coach, you’re going to have to go off what you saw last year on film. Now, you like this kid as a junior, have all of his film, and are looking to see how he will mature his senior year. Now you won’t have that. Now you have to go on your gut and it’s tough because junior year you are just starting to get going. That senior year is when you’re supposed to be on top of your game and now schools won’t be able to see that,” said Stringfellow.

“The weather is what is going to concern me most because if we get some snowfall then we will have to figure out what practice will look like, will we be inside, in the gym, that’s my biggest concern,” said Simpson, who on the other hand also feels that the change in schedule may actually have additional benefits as well. “But I feel like this may help teams across the state. It may help with basketball kids, for example, that may be afraid to play because they’ll get hurt, but now football will be after so maybe kids will give it a try. It may actually provide an opportunity to help our numbers and I’d welcome those kids with open arms.”

Regardless of when or how, the ultimate goal is to still have a football season by the end of this academic year, and Simpson is optimistic that it will happen one way or another.

“Talking to the administration, talking with (Pilgrim Athletic Director) Scott Bayha, we were always optimistic that we would have a season. As long as these kids have a chance to play, even if it is in the spring, even if it is a shortened season, if these kids have a chance to go out there and play and do it safely then that will be a win for everybody,” Simpson said.

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