Woodland football players finally had the chance to strap on their helmets this week for the first time all offseason. Head coach Tony Plott liked the physicality he saw, but he still had to rein them in.
“We had to remind them to tone it down a little bit,” Plott said. “… Heck, some of them were acting like we were in full pads. I had to remind them that we weren’t, so that’s good. They’re ready to go.”
Well, Plott will have longer than usual to manage his players' aggression now that the GHSA has pushed back the start of the regular season by two weeks. While the extra time comes with some challenges, he sees it as a good problem to have.
“As a coaching staff, we’re very excited,” Plott said of the postponement. “We get two extra weeks to prepare. As long as we play the season, we’re great with the delay.”
Now, obviously, there remains a chance of a full-blown cancellation — or at least some more interruptions along the way. Plott, though, sees no reason to worry about those possibilities.
“We’re working on the things we have control of with our team,” he said. “With the schedule being pushed back, we have a month between when school starts to the first game. We’re excited about that, allows us to get some of these kids back in the building and back on the field. Just looking at the positives of it.”
Due to the two-week push back, Woodland, which is set to open the regular season Sept. 4 at Gordon Central, will approach next week's start of the acclimation period as a continuation of summer workouts before going into full pads Aug. 3. The Wildcats will also have their rising freshmen continue to work out separately this coming week with the plan to combine them with the older group when padded practices begin.
“We don’t want to burn them out too early," Plott said of his players. “We don’t want to peak too early, so we kind of reset our schedule so that we’re peaking at the right time.”
He added, “We’re going to finish up this week like it’s normal summer workouts. That following Monday, we’ll start installing all of our special teams and stuff like that. We’ve already done some fundamental stuff with our guys. … We’re planning on taking full advantage of the extra time we’ve got.”
However, that doesn't include adding a second scrimmage to the preseason schedule. Woodland will maintain their previous schedule, albeit delayed two weeks, with an Aug. 21 visit to Model and an open date Aug. 28.
“We made the decision back in the wintertime to scrimmage real early,” Plott said. “That’s going to make it real hard for us to find a scrimmage the second week, when most teams already have a scrimmage.
“So we have our scrimmage, and we’re just going to follow through on our plan. That week we would normally scrimmage in the past, we’re just going to work on us, get five good days in, and that following week, start getting ready for our opener against Gordon Central. We thought about trying to add somebody, but in the end, we all agreed that it’s really good to just concentrate on us.”
That mindset has served the Wildcats well thus far during an offseason full of obstacles and potential pitfalls. All things considered, those who have attended workouts consistently have seen their hard work pay off.
“Honestly, we’re probably in the best shape we’ve ever been in,” Plott said. “… We’re very deep in our playbooks — both offensively and defensively. This summer has been really good to us.”