Tuesday marked the first day of school for most of Central Catholic’s students. It also marked a new point for the Crusader football team’s preseason.
Nobody is happy, generally, about the first day of school. Well, no students generally are.
However, as Central Catholic became one of the first schools in Stark County to have its full student body in the classroom on Tuesday, its head football coach, Jeff Lindesmith, acknowledged he was happy. Not just because it was the first time since March students had been back in the building full-time, but because of what it meant for his football team as it gets ready for next week’s season opener against New Philadelphia.
“I don’t know if it’s an advantage, but it sure helps with our routine,” Lindesmith said Tuesday. “I think that always helps. It helps me calm down a little bit. It helps our coaches and our players. It’s not Week 1, but our practice schedules and what we’re trying to simulate will be very similar to what we do next week.”
Central Catholic isn’t the only school starting back up this week. However, there are a number of area schools who won’t officially be back in the classroom until next week.
What does that mean for the Crusaders’ football team? Just a chance to get that first-week-of-school feeling out of their system before they get into the first-game-week-of-the-season mode.
Going back to school in normal years generally leads to an adjustment period for football teams. Going back to school in the current environment, with extra precautions in place to deal with the coronavirus.
“The only advantage I think that might have is mentally for our kids,” Lindesmith said. “They’re used to what they’re doing. They’ve seen people (Tuesday) that they haven’t seen since March just because of what’s going on. They’ve kind of got that out of the way. You always want your kids to be focused on the important things. Football is important; it’s not as important as their education and their family. But I think this helps them that way.”
Just as importantly, the start of school does mean a shift in practice. That shift in practice means that the season is, finally, getting close to starting.
Central Catholic has spent the last two-and-a-half weeks trying to blend together a number of younger or inexperienced players with the veterans who return from last year’s 6-4 team. It’s been a work in progress to this point, especially with teams not being able to conduct any scrimmages prior to Tuesday’s announcement by the OHSAA that they could squeeze one in either this Friday or Saturday.
The Crusaders conducted an intrasquad scrimmage last Friday to try and get a look at where they were in the moment. However, Lindesmith acknowledges it’s going to still take time to get to the final product.
“Practice-wise, it’s OK,” Lindesmith said. “We have a long way to go to where we want to get to. I just think we have a lot of improvements. We have some young skill kids who are in need of things. Every day, they get a little bit better, but obviously you’re never where you want to be.”
Except that, for Lindesmith, he’s happy his players are where they need to be now, which is in the building with the rest of their fellow students.