BLUEFIELD, Va. — Even though the regular season was pushed to the spring the Bluefield College football team has not taken a break as they prepare for the season.
Outside of two weeks where the Rams had to not practice due to COVID-19 cases the team has been able to get on the field and practice ahead of the spring season.
“We’re just excited and happy that we get to play and we’ve got as many juniors and seniors as we’ve ever had since I’ve been here and returning players so we’re looking forward to that,” said Bluefield College head football coach Dewey Lusk.
The season was postponed in August and the team will have its first game in February.
This week was the first time the Rams got to have contact at practice after spending most of the time just in helmets and shorts practicing.
“The kids when we got to hit some this week we’re really excited so actually spirits are very good considering,” Lusk said. “They know now we’re getting closer to our season as we open on February 6 and we’re looking forward to it.”
The team is only allowed to have 25 offensive and 25 defensive players on the field at once meaning that players are in different groups every day at practice.
When players coming out of quarantine they are not able to go through the same drills as the players that have not missed any practice time.
“We’re out there for about three hours every day when we get to practice with the different groups in the different stages of what’s going. That part has just been crazy and it changes daily,” Lusk said.
Even though the first game of the season is over three months away this is an important period of practice getting prepared for the first game.
There won’t be very much time to prepare when the players come back from the holidays so everything that can get done now is a benefit.
“What we’re getting done right now is very, very crucial to our success and preparation for the spring season,” Lusk said.
While the Rams have not been able to scrimmage and up until this past week have contact they have been able to get in the necessary shape for the season and learn all of the plays.
“Even though we had to go in shorts and helmets for so long we were able to install and condition which is critical,” Lusk said.
They are able to use this fall practice period like their normal spring practice even though they have had limited access to the weight room.
Even though the Rams have a lot of returning players they are able to use this time to evaluate every player on the roster to see who has made progress from last season.
“This is really a great evaluation and learning period for us,” Lusk said.
A group of players that gets an additional benefit are the freshmen who instead of getting only four weeks to adjust to the college level before their first game have all fall.
That could see some freshmen getting a lot of playing time early as they are ready for college football.
“There’s been some pleasant surprises that are young kids that are freshmen going into that first game that might not have had that opportunity had it been the regular schedule so I think its a big advantage for the freshmen,” Lusk said.
Once the players leave for Thanksgiving break they won’t be returning until the first week of January. They will then have to quarantine for five days and get tested before they can begin practicing.
It will be on the players to stay ready for when they return with only three weeks before the first game.
“We’re going to have to rely on the kids when they go home to get in the weight room, to stay in shape and condition,” Lusk said.
For the coaching staff the break allows them to look for new players to fill positions they feel are lacking the needed depth.
The nine-game schedule for Bluefield features three opponents it will play twice with only one of the games counting for the conference standings. Bluefield experienced that last year playing Kentucky Christian twice after a game was canceled and won both meetings.
“It’s hard to beat somebody twice and it should make for some really good competition. It should make for some exciting games,” Lusk said.