The Burnet High School football season officially began at 7 a.m. Monday, Aug. 3, when 110 student-athletes turned out for fall training camp. Head coach Jerod Rye was as happy as his players and coaches to be back on the gridiron.
“It’s awesome to be around so many of the kids,” he said, adding that COVID-19 guidelines have changed routines. “It’s different because of all the guidelines and regulations we have to follow.”
Guidelines to slow the spread of COVID-19 have been set by the University Interscholastic League and Burnet Consolidated Independent School District. New regulations require every player and coach to wear a face covering over their nose and mouth.
Before practice began Monday morning, Rye told the Bulldogs that he will happily wear a mask if it means they can have a football season.
“I’ll wear it every day all day,” he said. “We feel extremely fortunate. We issued one to every kid. It’s a mandate they wear them when they’re in the building, when they’re in close together, when we’re doing some drills. We’re going to take every precaution we can.”
Thanks to the athletes participating in a six-week-long strength-and-conditioning program, most of the Bulldogs arrived in good physical condition. However, due to COVID-19, the players missed out on summer 7-on-7 football leagues and football-specific drills, both of which help them keep their gridiron skills in tune.
“I feel like conditioning was not an issue today,” Rye said. “But you can see the knowledge retention is more of an issue.”
The Bulldogs coaches canceled the first scrimmage, which means they won’t play against an opponent until Aug. 20 when they host Lake Belton at 6:30 p.m. Burnet plans to use that time wisely, according to the coach.
“It allows us to slow down that teaching process,” Rye said. “We’ll take that time to make up for what we lost.”
The first game of the season is currently set for Friday, Aug. 28, when the Bulldogs host the Jarrell High School Cougars at 7:30 p.m.
Burnet was slated to play the Marble Falls Mustangs for the second game — until the UIL made some changes. While Class 1A to 4A athletic programs can begin practicing Aug. 3, Class 5A and 6A have to wait until Monday, Sept. 7.
Burnet is a Class 4A school, while Marble Falls is a Class 5A school. With the Mustangs unavailable for the annual rivalry, the Bulldogs will instead face the Gonzales Apaches at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 4, at Apache Field, 1602 N. St. Joseph St. in Gonzales.