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With safety in mind, area football teams working their way back to the practice field

Upper Dublin's Jacob Rossman (6) carries Central's Andy Zheng (74) for a few extra yards during their game on Thursday, Aug. 29, 2019 at Upper Dublin High School. (James Beaver/For MediaNews Group)

It’s uncharted territory for area football coaches, and their players.

“We hope to begin the 2020 season with outdoor training on July 1, and it will be like no other offseason any of us has been a part of,” Upper Dublin coach Bret Stover said.

Safety plans are now being put in place so that teams can prepare safely following the shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. It’s been a while since area teams suited up: the end of the winter season was lost, and the entire spring season was wiped out. Preparing for fall 2020 will require some extra care. 

“We will be going through a screening process with each athlete and coach before they will be allowed out of their vehicles,” Stover said.

New experience >> Summer workouts and practices are a busy enough time, as players are evaluated and developed, and rosters and depth charts are developed with scrutiny.

This summer, there are some new challenges.

“This summer is completely different than all of those in the past,” Souderton Area coach Ed Gallagher said. “The PIAA has allowed school districts to come up with their own plans for bringing student athletes back into schools and facilities for workouts.”

Teams may bring things along slowly at first.

“We will bring the players in for two weeks of strength and conditioning in smaller groups,” Gallagher said, “before we resume any actual football activities.”

Echoed Stover, “we will not be permitted inside our facility at the beginning of our return-to-play plan.

“The biggest challenge has been keeping our athletes from gathering.”

Pushing forward >> Upper Dublin and Souderton Area both reached the postseason a year ago and hoped to make it back in 2020.

The path – and sacrifices made by all involved – will just be a little bit different.

“The excitement is definitely there,” Stover said, “but at Upper Dublin we will do everything we can to keep our athletes and staff safe.

“The true heroes this season will be athletes and coaches who stay home when showing any symptoms of the virus. One selfish team member could set back the entire season. We are stressing this is the most important thing we can do to make sure we have an opportunity to play this fall.”

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