It’s pretty clear that Adairsville head football coach Eric Bishop has gotten fed up with the uncertainty surrounding the return to play of high school athletics.
Bishop answered back-to-back questions in an interview Wednesday afternoon by citing two different aspects of the ordeal as “the most frustrating.” Needless to say, not being able to have any spring practices has put Bishop in an unfamiliar position.
“I certainly don’t want to go back too fast, and then be shut down again,” Bishop said. “… From a personal and professional level, not being able to prepare is the most frustrating thing. I don’t even have an opinion about whether we should come back, when we should come back or how that comeback should look. It’s definitely for somebody else to make that decision.
“I just wish the decision would be made, so that myself, our coaching staff and the kids can begin to prepare for that return — whatever it is and whenever it is. I just wish we had some answers for that.”
By the end of this week, Bishop might have the clarity he has been seeking.
The GHSA is planning to hold a virtual Board of Trustees meeting Thursday afternoon. According to an agenda posted to the governing body’s website, executive director Robin Hines is scheduled to “address the committee on several issues including a discussion of plans to return to GHSA activities.”
It’s too soon to know whether a concrete timeline will emerge from the meeting, but it would seem to be at least a tentative step towards resuming high school athletics in Georgia.
An experienced team, which had only a dozen seniors in 2019, the Tigers are coming off a 5-6 season and a berth in the Class 3A state playoffs. At whatever point Bishop is able to hold practice with his entire squad, he has the belief in his players that they will be able to quickly settle into their regular flow.
“I think our kids are so used to the consistency in what we do both offensively and defensively and on special teams that I really feel like we can jump right back in and not miss a beat,” Bishop said. “… That part of it is really the least of my worries.”
One of the major reasons why Bishop is so confident in his players’ ability to reacclimatize themselves hinges on the return of the quarterback of his offense, Conner Crunkelton, and the quarterback of his defense, Courtney Slocum. Crunkelton has become an extension of Bishop and offensive coordinator Patrick Konen, while Slocum is an incredibly heady defensive back with an offer from Marist College.
“I think Conner’s going to have an even better year than he had last year,” Bishop said of his rising senior signal-caller. “He’s getting to the point almost where Marcus Childers was when Marcus was going into his senior year. It’s almost like he knows what the next move is going to be, what the next play is going to be. When he messes up, he corrects himself before we even get to him. That’s going to definitely be a luxury at quarterback. ...
“It’s going to be fun. We just need to get back out there and get the ball rolling again. Literally.”
As with most head coaches, Bishop loves being able to plan things out to the smallest detail. The COVID-19 outbreak has taken that, temporarily, away from him.
He hopes to get back to doing it sooner, rather than later. Even if it means adjusting to a new normal — “whatever that may be,” he says — he would take just knowing what the future holds.
It doesn’t help matters that the lack of a future timeline keeps Bishop from being able to give his players the reassurance they currently want.
“It’s very difficult and very different, because it’s an unprecedented time," he said. “I think the most frustrating part is when I do talk to the kids, the one common theme is that each one of them ask, ‘Coach, when are we going to be able to get back together?’ I just have to tell them, ‘I absolutely do not know.’
“They always look for us to have all the answers. … We don’t have the answers this time.”