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Suburban One League football teams begin heat acclimization period

Upper Dublin football players stretch before practice on Monday, Sept. 14, at Upper Dublin High School. (Ed Morlock/MediaNews Group)

UPPER DUBLIN and LOWER GWYNEDD >> The heat acclimization period for high school football is typically a week in early August  when teams get back on the field and get used playing in temperatures in the mid-90s.

Like all things in 2020, “typically” isn’t happening.

The Suburban One League’s heat acclimization period started Monday, Sept. 14, with weather in the mid-70s as area teams took the field wearing pads for the first time this year.

“Good feeling (to be back),” Upper Dublin defensive back Micah Bootman said. “Little scared that we weren’t going to come back. I’m just ready to start my senior year.”

“It’s beautiful,” Wissahickon offensive lineman Mike Fath said. “It’s things we’ve been dreaming of as of late. With everything going on in the world right now it’s hard to actually believe we’re out here right now. We’re so fortunate. Some of these states like Ohio have been out for a few weeks now and we’re just lucky that we’re following suit.”

Throughout this week, coaches will be focusing on getting their players up to speed. In addition to stressing safety precautions when it comes to COVID-19, they will also be doing their best to avoid football-related injuries, such as pulled hamstrings.

“I’m just worried about the injuries,” Upper Dublin head coach Bret Stover said. “You watch the NFL (Sunday) – I don’t know how we avoid that, but we’re going to do everything we can to get them conditioned so the injury wasn’t caused by being out of shape.”

“Since it’s not a normal offseason to prepare,” Wissahickon head coach Bruce Fleming said, “we always have that risk of soft-tissue injuries – a hamstring here or something like that – because there is so much of the start-and-stop, start-and-stop. Now we just have to take it a little bit slower than normal.

“We’re starting to teach some things here and there, get our young guys comfortable being up here playing with the older guys. That’s where we are right now.”

Fath added that during this first week: “We’re just trying to be the best we can. That’s all we can ask for. The results will get there – we know that. All we can ask is for everyone to work their hardest and give their best effort.”

Teams have been practicing without pads for a couple weeks now after the SOL voted to move forward with fall sports on Aug. 28. Wissahickon decided that it would vote to play this fall in early August while Upper Dublin made its decision a few days before the SOL held the official vote.

“We were ecstatic about all of it,” Fath said. “Me and all these guys out here have been working for this forever. We’re a senior-dominated team this year, which is great. We’ve been working up from the beginning to be where we are now. All these guys are just looking to get on the field and perform.”

“The day of the vote we were outside the township building for a rally,” Bootman said, “protesting, walking around, just hoping that they see us, acknowledge us.”

The football season is set to kickoff in less than three weeks on Friday Oct. 2.

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