If all goes as planned, the revised Oregon School Activities Association calendar has high school football practice beginning on Feb. 8 and games kicking off March 1.
The six-week regular season — shortened due to the coronavirus pandemic — includes the culminating week.
Members of the Roseburg High football team were on the turf at Finlay Field for a workout on a dry Thursday afternoon during the Season One phase. A group of seniors, juniors and sophomores received instruction from head coach Dave Heuberger and some members of his staff.
Heuberger said for January they will hold workouts for the older players on Mondays and Thursdays and work with the freshmen on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Only 50 are allowed on the field at a time because of COVID-19 protocols.
The athletes are hungry to play and the coaches are eager to coach them after the pandemic bumped the 2020 fall sports season (football, volleyball, soccer and cross country) to the winter/spring of this year.
OSAA spring sports (baseball, softball, track and field, tennis and golf) are tentatively scheduled to begin on April 12, followed by winter sports (basketball, wrestling and swimming) May 17.
“It’s a great day to be out on the field,” Heuberger said. “Even on Monday, when we were out here with the older guys, it was pouring rain and still great to be out here. That was a unique thing as well.
“There are some adjustments we need to make with the new personnel. It gives us an opportunity to come out here and do a dry run of some adjustments we’re looking at. But No. 1, these kids are excited to be out here and it’s fun seeing them.”
Carson Six, a junior slotback/defensive back, is among the returning starters for the Indians.
“It was really empty (not having a fall season),” Six said. “It was kind of hard sometimes, you’re so used to looking forward to something like a sport and then it gets taken away from you. It kind of hurts, but you just have to keep going — keep pushing through.
“It’s great. I love being out here, love being with the guys. There’s nothing better than just hanging with your friends and having some fun playing football.”
Landyn Dupper, a junior wide receiver/cornerback, agreed.
“It was disappointing,” he said of not playing in the fall. “It’s one of my main sports, I look forward to it every year. I’m excited. Hopefully we get to play again ... everybody still wants to play, no matter what time of the year it is.”
Some returning players are missing from the workouts because they got jobs in order to make some money.
“Can’t blame them, since there’s no guarantee of a season,” Heuberger said.
Heuberger admitted it was tough not having competitive football in August, September and October, but he enjoyed having the opportunity to spend more time with his family.
“Obviously we’re still teaching and got that, but there was more time to do some of the things you hear guys get to do during the fall — get up to the mountains and do some fishing and hunting,” Heuberger said. “It was weird waking up on Saturday and Sunday mornings, knowing you had a full weekend of things to get done. The chores got done and you still had time during the weekend.
“For me, it was great with two daughters, being able to spend more time with them. That was neat for family time we normally don’t get in the fall.”
Playing outdoors in February and March would mean playing in colder weather, but nobody seems worried about that.
“The main thing I had to do was not treat it like my sport got taken away, but make it seem like an extra long off-season so I had to keep working,” Six said. “Keep getting better, even though we couldn’t do anything as a team. We’re glad to be back and are going to give it all we’ve got.”
“We’re not overly concerned as coaches about having rain gear,” Heuberger said, chuckling. “Getting these kids the opportunity to be back and be part of something, they’re going to be extremely excited. I keep telling them the first night they get back here for a game at Finlay Field it’s going to be pretty electric for the kids, and if the community is able to be here and watch it.
“It’s going to be a big moment in their lives. This will be the third time they’ve started to ramp up for a season, so they’re getting used to it. They’re hopeful.”
Heuberger is in his fifth year as Roseburg’s head coach. He has an overall record of 9-27 and is 3-17 in Southwest Conference games.
This year’s team is young and has a small group of seniors.
“I think the main goal for us (with these workouts) is to start getting mentally ready,” Six said. “Understanding how the team works, how it is to get to know these players. Build that chemistry, and when the season comes we’ll be ready.
“We can always improve from last year — that would be a great start obviously. Just setting up these younger kids for their next season because we’re short on seniors.”
Heuberger is looking forward to having the student-athletes back on campus. All students in Roseburg Public Schools will be able to return to school on Jan. 25, the school board decided Wednesday.
Middle and high school students will be on a hybrid schedule.
“(Distance learning) is definitely way harder for me,” Dupper said. “It’s hard to stay focused. You don’t feel like you’re learning anything, but you have to do it.”
Six said, “It’s pretty difficult, but we have a lot of good people at the school and they’re really willing to help everybody out. The adjustment (from in-person learning) wasn’t too bad. Sometimes it’s rough keeping up on schoolwork because you don’t have anyone there telling you directly to get it done.”