‘It hurts the team,’ Carter County football coaches weigh in on two-week practice delay

Keeping Schools Safe

CARTER COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL) – Football coaches in Carter County are concerned following the board of education’s decision to cancel practices and all extracurricular activities for the next two weeks.

Coaches told News Channel 11 that most first games have already been canceled for the season and now, because of this delay, if they aren’t practicing 10 days out from their next game, that too, can be canceled.

Area coaches, like O’Brien Bennett who coaches at Unaka high school, are already alerting their opponents of the current situation.

“I’m trying to understand the situation as well so I’ve let him know that it looks like that game could be canceled as well,” said Bennett.

He said as a coach, you always have to be fluid and adaptive, especially now with the on-going pandemic. Bennett said he expected a decision like this to be made in some capacity and understands. However, he said this delay hurts his team, especially the seniors.

Michael Lunsford, the head coach at Hampton High School said while this was a sudden decision, he wasn’t surprised by it.

“If they could not be in the schools, then they couldn’t be playing ball. It’s just the fear of it and it’s just one of those things where they made a decision and we’ve got to go by it,” said Lunsford.

However, seniors who only have one last season said they are devastated by this decision. “It made me pretty upset because we worked pretty hard for everything and we’ve already been shut down once so it feels like we aren’t working for anything,” said Matthew Erickson, Unaka Football Senior.

It was a similar story in Greene County, where 13 Greeneville High School athletes tested positive for the virus, which prompted a shutdown of all athletic activities for a brief time.

Despite the delay, Greeneville athletic officials said they are getting back on track, however, understand that plans can change anytime.

“I think it’s naive for anybody to say that we’re definitely going to do this or that we’re not going to do this because the situation has the chance to change so drastically so quickly,” said Greeneville High School Athletic Director, Brad Woolsey.

While there is no confirmation of any positive cases in carter county athletes, seniors hope the delay doesn’t surpass these two weeks.

“I just want to have a season. I don’t care if it’s in the Spring or not because it’s pretty important to me and the other seniors,” said Erickson.

Another Carter County Board of Education meeting will be held on August 20th to further discuss any more changes or delays.

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