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Hounds adjust in silent spring

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Players work out at home, coaches keep in touch, stadium work begins

  • Hounds adjust in silent spring
    The old visiting stands have been removed along with much of the sod from the field as the stadium is prepared for new stands and artificial turf. CHUCK THOMPSON/Staff
  • Hounds adjust in silent spring
  • Hounds adjust in silent spring
  • Hounds adjust in silent spring
  • Hounds adjust in silent spring
    Jones County football players have found innovative ways to keep working out at home, from dragging and lifting tires to squats with concrete blocks and their moms or sisters on their shoulders.

Spring game would have been Friday

The Greyhounds were supposed to be heading down to Dublin Friday night to play West Laurens in a spring football game.

But COVID-19 arrived, and everything changed.

The two weeks of spring practice was canceled. Because the schools are closed, the weight room has been shut since the middle of March and players could not come to work with the coaches on the practice field.

But football has not completely stopped.

The players have continued to work out on their own at home. A video on the Jones County football Facebook page, from which the photos at the right were taken, highlights some of the innovative ways they have adapted workouts to the shelter at home restrictions.

They’ve been dragging tires and bench pressing them, squatting with moms or sisters draped over their shoulders, pushing cars around, jumping onto and over trash cans, doing pushups and running around the neighborhood.

Jones County coach Mike Chastain applauds their efforts, but he still misses the chance to work with his team in person.

“They’re trying to be creative and active, and that’s good. But it isn’t the same as being with us at school in a structured program. You talk to any football coach at any level, and they’ll tell you the guys won’t be in as good shape when they come back. But we’re thankful they’re doing what they can, and we are all hoping we can get back with the guys at some point not too far away this summer,” he said.

Georgia High School Association director Robin Hines said recently that he hopes some sort of summer activities for high school athletes can resume in June, but no dates have been announced.

“We’ve heard different rumors, but no one has said anything yet,” Chastain said. “We’ve heard there will probably be restrictions on how many can gather at one time. We’re just waiting to hear what we can do and when, and we’ll adjust and do the best we can.”

One rumor has been that players will be allowed to work in groups of no more than 10 with a coach when they are allowed back, but nothing is for certain.

The Jones County coaches were looking forward to spring practice and summer camps and workouts to help decide on new starters at quarterback, wide receiver and other positions on offense and defense.

That has been put on hold for the time being.

“We were fortunate in that we have a football class and the weight training all year long, so we had been able to do a lot of teaching and gotten a good base in place before we had to break,” Chastain said. “And our younger guys who we’re hoping to move into starting positions have all been in the system for a year, so that helps. Schools with new coaches coming in with all new schemes are the ones who will really be behind. At least the rest of us are all in the same boat.”

Chastain said he and his assistants have stayed busy checking on players by phone and internet, and the teaching the playbook part has continued online.

The coaches have also had plenty of virtual meetings to refine schemes and plan for the season.

Chastain has also been working to secure several new assistants to replace some who are leaving. See next week’s edition for more on those changes.

“We’ve missed our regular routine, but it still has been a good spring,” he said. “We’re still in the wait and see mode now, but everyone will be eager to get going again as soon as we’re allowed.”

Meanwhile, work has begun to install an artificial turf field and put in new visitor stands at the stadium. Work hopefully will be complete by late July or early August.