The Sealy Tiger football team held their traditional Midnight Madness practice last Friday night at midnight to close the first full week of official practices although this year’s event was a little more spread out.
This time around, instead of being hosted at T.J. Mills Stadium, it was held at the Sealy High School practice field and spilled onto the softball field to allow player groups to maintain distance. Per guidelines from the University Interscholastic League, all players had their own water bottle and wore masks when not participating and when in larger groups.
“I was so proud of the kids, first thing is we came out injury free,” head football coach Shane Mobley said at the end of practice. “Everything we did, we didn’t have to go live contact and COVID-19 had a lot to do with that as well.”
Players went back to the locker rooms in alternating time frames after their practices were done. The freshman group completed seven of the nine drills and went in. The junior varsity did all nine and went in, then the varsity stayed out to run offensive plays after their nine drills before retiring to the locker room after practice. Also, after every drill, the equipment was sprayed and wiped down with disinfectant before the group rotated to the next station.
“That’s just what you’ve got to put together where you stagger it in the locker room and give time to clean things down,” Mobley said. “You saw the coaches tonight at every station, every time wiping down and it’s the same thing in the weight room. Every time you’re moving, you’re cleaning. From the weight room to the locker rooms, once the kids leave, they clean. Then the coaches go in and clean, spray it down and let it air dry so our hands are really clean.”
Although that scheduling is part of of coaching in a pandemic, once Mobley and the staff hit the field to get practice going shortly after midnight, it was just football again.
“Everything’s on hold when I’m out here because it’s such a getaway,” the head coach said nearing 2 a.m. “You don’t know how bad you need these kids in this profession until you see them and that’s all of us, especially with our family as far as coaches, to be able to get back together with them as well. I feel alive, it feels good.”
Of course, the games will look different this season as well with stadium capacities limited to 50% per UIL guidance. Sealy will also have two open weeks, one in the middle of its four non-district games and another before the district slate starts. Mobley said he’s still working to finalize things before the home opener on Aug. 28.
“I think we’ve come up with the best game plan we could for our kids and their families when games start here,” he said. “With some of this stuff we’re hesitant to put things out because things are changing almost daily, weekly for sure.”
For now, the clock is ticking down to the Tigers’ first scrimmage in Columbus on Aug. 20 but after the first full week of practice, Mobley and the staff have seen plenty of their players in action and the fun part starts where they get to figure out which puzzle pieces fit best where.
“Started really good, we’ve been doing a lot of conditioning and basic stuff on both sides of the ball because there’s a lot of evaluation that needs to happen,” Mobley said. “Next week we’re in full pads and full contact and everything so what we learned and saw tonight, we’ve got to go fix on Monday and Tuesday. … The following week we’ll be preparing for Columbus. It is a scrimmage so it’s going to be more about – I know what Brooks Redden can do, I know what Clayton Prazak can do, they’ll get some snaps but we need to get some of these younger guys in and see where they’re at so that we can sit here and put things together.”
Offensive coordinator Chris Carruthers said he was glad to have an extra week to prepare for the first scrimmage to nail down the rest of the basics before really hitting it hard with game preparations.
“I’m excited there’s not a scrimmage to get ready for next week which is really good for us where we can really get down to the basics after missing the spring and summer and really see who can do it without getting ready for a scrimmage,” Carruthers said. “These first four or five days have been basic as basic can be offensively just seeing these are the guys who can do it the best.”
He said they’ve got a good problem on their hands with multiple skill players for a few spots which will hopefully open up opportunities for some to play on the other side of the ball and contribute that way.
After it was all said and done Saturday morning, Mobley was inspired by his conversation with the freshman group looked forward to the future of Sealy Tiger football.
“Good to see the younger kids get after it, it was fun talking to the freshmen,” Mobley said. “They’re all hyped up saying, ‘Coach, this was fun, this was cool!’ The great thing is that hopefully they’ve got three more years so it was a good time. A lot of kids got stuff done and the coaches got to evaluate; that’s what I like about it because the coaches stay at a station and the kids rotate and they get to see (everyone).”
In other news around Texas high school football, earlier this week Ben Bolt High School, a Class 2A school in the Corpus Christi area, became the first UIL-member school to cancel its football and volleyball seasons altogether.
Quinton Martinez of the Corpus Christi Caller-Times reported Monday morning the Ben Bolt-Palito Blanco ISD school board voted to hold online-only instruction for the first nine weeks, barring students from extracurricular activities until the end of October.