Area football programs missing out on critical off-season workouts

Sports

Springfield coach Sean Guerriero is using a unique approach to off-season workouts

Springfield Tigers coach

YOUNGSTOWN, OHIO (WKBN) – With the OHSAA having officially canceling the winter scholastic sports season last week and placing the spring sports season in a postponed status, the fall sports season starts to come into question.  The possibility of some sort of delay is already being discussed.

“Friday in our daily meeting that we have with staff, not that we weren’t thinking about it, but now we’re starting to look at what if we are delayed in football,” OHSAA President Jerry Snodgrass recently told station WCPO in Cincinnati.  In addition, other fall sports including volleyball, soccer, golf, and cross country would also be delayed.

For right now, local football coaches are losing valuable off-season weight room time with their players.  Many coaches point to this time of year as to when the games are essentially won on the field in the fall.  It becomes even more amplified due to graduations that every school has with its senior players.

For Springfield head coach Sean Guerriero, his defending state runner-up Tigers are not just missing out on the weight room lifting, it’s the team bonding that is not being established during the current coronavirus shut-down.

“The part I worry the most about is more of the social aspect of it.  This is when our kids, I think, where our upcoming seniors build their character and leadership.  We don’t have that bonding process where if we have twenty kids in the weight room usually our kids are leading, helping each other out, and pushing each other.  I think that’s the thing we are going to end up missing the most,” Guerriero said.

Dan Yeagley from South Range was happy with how much his team was able to establish before the school shutdown took place, “We had a great winter.  The kids that are coming back had a great winter where they were in the weight room working hard.  Everything was on an upslope, everything was positive and then all of a sudden this happens and we are completely shut down.”

“This is what we strive on, winning games in the winter,” he added.  “But our kids are still working.  I talk to them on a regular basis, and I told them they have to be doing something.  Sit-ups, pushup, planks, squats, try to do whatever you can.  They have to use their imagination a little bit.”

For teams like Southern, who had a large senior class that helped propel them to the OHSAA playoffs last year, the loss of these off-season workouts is concerning.  The Indians will have to rely on a lot of their underclassmen to step up this fall.

“It has affected us a lot,” Indians coach Rich Wright stated.  “We had a very experienced football team last year, a senior-heavy team.  So this time would have been pretty important for us.  We’re a small school, so most of our kids play winter sports, so we were already a little bit behind, but obviously, we are in the same boat as everybody else.  With how many starters we lost, it’s going to hurt.”

Geurriero had the luxury of playing an extra month of football last year with the long playoff run, giving his younger players some much-needed experience.  Plus he has implemented a different approach to the season in the past couple of years, thanks in part to an old adversary.

“I talked with Tiger Laverde with Kirtland,” Guerriero stated.  “I called him because of the situation with our leagues where we go through the grind, but we have some games in there where we got to play a lot of kids and our starters didn’t get as beat up as much.  So we changed where we really put an effort into lifting during the season.  I think that helped us.”

With the buzz of the football season for the Tigers, the return to the weight room after the mandatory 30-day season-ending break meant that they had a majority of their team hitting the weights hard in January.  That hard work proved effective as the Tigers placed high in the Columbiana lifting meet on March 7th.

Guerriero and his staff are going to try to instill some of that team bonding while also making it a challenge for his players,  “We’re going to set up a Google Classroom for our team.  We’re going to do a challenge for the day, and maybe do it three or four days a week.  We’ll send it out.  I don’t think many of our kids are sitting at home not doing anything,” Guerriero explained the team’s workout plans.

He added, “I want the kids to be able to log on and watch everybody else working out.  I want them to be able to compete, and if there is a challenge and say I know this kid in my position and he just did 500 pushups and I only did 100 pushups, right there tells you that you better get your butt in gear to be able to compete.”

“You kind of look at more of the cross-fit activities,” Guerriero remarked.  “A simple activity like pushups, you want to do as many pushups as you can in twenty minutes.  You’re going to push through the grind when your body gets tired where you can take a break and hop back into it.”

“It’ll be curious to see what happens in the spring and see when we may be able to start doing things.  I told the kids that we will have to be able to hit the ground running as soon as we get back,” Yeagley said.

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