Dearborn — A mix of varsity and junior varsity players arrived to the gate at Dearborn Fordson’s football practice field Monday afternoon, greeted with a mandatory health screening by their athletic trainer.
Players were spread out and socially distanced on the fences with helmets and pads in hand as one of the many precautions with sports and COVID-19.
Fordson head coach Fouad Zaban said it's a process they’ve become accustomed to, since in-person classes were canceled in the spring.
“Our main priority was making sure everyone was healthy and safe,” Zaban said.
He also mentioned that academics and conditioning were important in a quarantined offseason. Once summer came, workouts required multiple entrances to the field so players were spread out and coaches had their temperatures taken. The team also went online each day to fill out a health screening form.
“They’re excited to get started with football activity because we haven’t been able to do much of that," Zaban said. "There were no seven-on-seven practices, and we had a limited time for a training camp."
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Assistant coaches directed players to take equipment out on the field in preparation for a humid day of football. Practice was going as planned, and Zaban said he’s mentally locked in when he’s there with his team.
“It’s been all football for me when I’m here," he said. "But when I walk out of here and I hear news about other conferences canceling, it depresses me.”
He was referred to not only the Mid-American Conference canceling fall sports late last week, but also the Patriot League canceling last month. Zaban’s nephew plays football at Fordham, which will not have a fall season.
“As far as the MHSAA, I think they have done a great job of communicating that they want to have a season," Zaban said. "Not only a season, but a fall season for the other sports including football."
The most discouraging part for him with playing football is seeing the reasoning behind it all.
“If they (large college conferences) aren’t going to play, I don’t know know if the MHSAA will justify that we are allowed to play,” Zaban said. “We’re going to take it one day at a time.”
The team began to warm up with jogging and stretching, while following the guidelines of using masks and keeping a safe social distance. Zaban said being able to to run plays on offense and defense was a bright spot.
“This being the first day of football," he said, "I’m focusing on being prepared and being the best that we can be."
Zach Sturgill is a freelance writer.