The return of high school football practice throughout Monday was long awaited by many, but Murray County High School football head coach Chad Brewer has plenty of reasons to be happy about being out on the field again.
After questions about whether football season would even be played amid the outbreak of the new coronavirus (COVID-19), Brewer was on the field Monday and Tuesday, leading his team in its first official practices of the 2020 season after a bout with COVID-19 himself.
"I'm like a kid at Christmas being out here, and I think it is for the kids, too," Brewer said. "When football practice is fun, you know they've got to be bored to death. Our coaches are so excited about being here, and our passion is filtering over to our players."
Brewer said he tested positive for COVID-19 on July 11. After resting up during a quarantine period that ceased workouts for Murray County for two weeks, Brewer said he's feeling back to normal.
"I appreciate everyone who checked on me," Brewer said. "You've got more friends than you realize. I had one bad day, then I was recovering after that and never got any of the major symptoms. I know I had a lot of people praying for me, and I'm grateful for that."
Amid the outbreak, offseason workouts were delayed for high school sports until June 8. Later, the start of the football season, which is now Sept. 4, was shifted two weeks later than originally scheduled.
After a heavily-regulated ramp-up period of offseason workouts that gradually saw restrictions lessen, football teams were allowed to hold full-team practices beginning Monday.
Wright Nelson, a senior on Coahulla Creek High School's team, said that Monday's first practice for the Colts went well. Nelson was reached just before Coahulla's Tuesday practice.
"I don't know that I have ever been a part of anything like that," Nelson said of COVID-19's impact on preparation for football. "It was good to just get back out there again. It was nice for me and all my teammates, I know we've been kind of champing at the bit to start."
Brewer said the excitement-filled first two days of practice have been productive for his team, despite some breaks to combat the heat. Despite finishing practice at 11 a.m., a thermometer already showed temperatures at 86 degrees in Chatsworth Tuesday.
"The heat got to us a little bit today, but I expect all that to be better as we go," Brewer said. "Our kids are hustling everywhere in practice, and you can tell they're ready to go."