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Poplarville football hoping athletes can stay safe

The offseason is meant to be a time of improvement for the Poplarville Hornets football team.

Players can work on their speed, strength and conditioning while the coaching staff prepare younger players for new roles.

However, those preparations have been put on hold now that all athletic activities have been suspended until at least April 17 by the Mississippi High School Activities Association due to the outbreak of the Coronavirus.

Head Coach Jay Beech said his team made progress during the offseason prior to the suspension.

Athletes had been working out consistently in an attempt to prepare for spring practices.

During spring practices the pads come back out and the team works on position drills while also getting inexperienced athletes some much needed reps.

All those opportunities are now on the backburner as the program is prohibited from having organized team activities.

Beech said in time, if the suspension continues, he and his staff might start sending out specific workout plans and playbooks for the players to study.

There’s plenty the athletes can do at home to try and stay in shape, but Beech said the number one priority is the safety of his players.

“Just trying to keep them as safe as possible. Teenage kids don’t like sitting at home, so we’re telling them to be smart and take care of themselves. Try not to get sick or get anybody else sick,” Beech said.

The lack of spring practices means there won’t be any work done in pads until the summer, which Beech said he’s never seen in his 15 years of coaching. It’ll be a mad rush to get everyone up to speed whenever athletic activities can resume, but Beech said all programs throughout the state will be in the same predicament.

“We’re not going to be as strong or fast as we could’ve been, not as sharp offensively and defensively as we could be, but everybody has to go through it,” Beech said.

During such an uncertain time there can be some benefits in staying the same.

Losing the spring practices means incoming coaches will have less time to implement their system.

Players have to adapt whenever a system change is made, and with fewer practices that process will be more difficult.

Beech said the team has a new defensive coordinator and so the process of transitioning into the new system will be difficult.

“It benefits the coaching staff who haven’t changed anything. We’re going through a change on defense, which will hurt us a little bit. Teams who will run the same offense and defense (as they did) last year will have a little bit of an advantage,” Beech said.

Beech said his program isn’t hit nearly as hard by the suspension as other programs at the school who were in the midst of their seasons.

The lack of workouts will have an impact on the football team, but for others the suspension will have a more forceful effect.

“We’re not near as bad as baseball and softball. They worked for years to get to play their senior season and to get that taken away is terrible,” Beech said.