NATICK (CBS) – Spring football is right around the corner and local high school teams are gearing up with a round of scrimmages. Natick hosted Newton North Friday, one week ahead of when the season officially begins, and it offered a look into some of the safety protocols in place.
One of the most noticeable safety measures are the masks that everyone on the field must wear. Natick’s Jalyn Aponte says, “It’s a little harder to breathe, but that’s just something you get used to the more you play with it.”READ MORE: Mass. To Receive Significantly Less Johnson & Johnson COVID Vaccine Doses Next Week
The senior running back says, despite the protocols in place, he’s just happy to salvage a season he lost in the fall of 2020. “I like just being out on the field with the team again, because it feels like a sense of normalcy,” Aponte says.
Some of the other adjustments to this spring season include virtual team meetings, no locker rooms, and even fewer players. Natick senior quarterback Will Lederman says, “We usually have an 80 man roster. This year we have 45, so practice is a lot different.”
Lederman says it was tough for all the seniors when football was called off last fall. It was the first time in a long time many of them had nothing to do. “It’s the first year for most of us, in like 10 years, we didn’t have a football season in the fall,” he said.READ MORE: Dorchester Grandmother Killed In Shooting While Sitting On Her Front Porch
Natick head coach Mark Mortarelli knows there’s always a chance the season could get derailed by coronavirus, but he’s trying to limit exposure and contact as much as he can. After all, football is a contact sport.
Mortarelli says he breaks up the team into smaller groups at practice. “We try to do a lot of our practice when they’re in their mini teams in case there is an outbreak we can trace it quickly,” he said.
Mortarelli also admits it’s tough to keep players socially distanced, especially after a big play. “The hardest thing is during the competition, just remember you can’t high five, you can’t hug, you’ve got to spread out and all that stuff,” he said. “The emotional stuff is difficult.”MORE NEWS: Coronavirus In Massachusetts: Today's Developments
Natick opens up the spring season March 12.