Jesse Funkhouser performs a power clean during a recent workout session in the weight room at Strasburg High School. Schools in the area have been holding football workouts for over a month now.

Football workouts have been going on for over a month now and already players are seeing signs of success.

Even more importantly to the players is just having that feeling of being back together again.

Strasburg senior Trey Stinnette said that it helps give the players extra motivation when they can work together.

“It’s definitely been a lot better being able to bring the team together and work together again,” Stinnette said. “Even though it’s very limited and we’re doing different groups right now with different people so we’re still not seeing everyone.

“It’s still nice to get together and to still be able to see some of your teammates and really work together. Because working together is a lot different than working apart. You’re there pushing each other and motivating each other and you’re working for the dude beside you too.”

The Virginia High School League announced last month that due to the COVID-19 pandemic football the entire fall season would be pushed to spring. The VHSL came up with a draft of a plan this week that would have football starting in February. The first games would be Feb. 22 and they would play six in the regular season.

Despite not having a fall season, area teams have been doing various workouts, conditioning and/or weightlifting for the last month.

Strasburg head coach Mark Roller said they have been working out four days a week with four different groups, each going twice a week. He said they have had about 16 kids each week. They are only doing some conditioning and lifting weights.

“The older kids are doing really well,” Roller said. “They’re coming in, getting stuff done. I think we’re getting some things accomplished. I think these kids for the most part have had a pretty good attitude.”

Central has been dividing up into smaller groups at different times twice a week. Central head coach Mike Yew said he has had a pretty good turnout with around 22-24 each day. He said they had a high of 29 kids two weeks ago.

Yew said he thinks it’s important for the athletes to be back and to be around each other.

“The kids being here is good for them in any capacity,” Yew said. “When they can get back into a routine that they are accustomed to it is good for them, whether it is the school part or the sports part, the summer workout part, seven on sevens, going to camps. Whatever they can get in and in whatever capacity it is is healthy for them because kids need social interaction regardless of how it’s happening. So, from that point, I think it’s a good thing for the kids to be here.”

Yew said his players will take a few weeks off when school starts on Aug. 31. Shenandoah County Public Schools will be going all-virtual for the first nine weeks and Yew said he wanted to give the kids as well as himself and his coaching staff a little time to adjust to virtual learning before getting back into football workouts.

Central has been doing weight lifting for the last few weeks, but senior Brevin Scott said anything they do is going to help them get ready for the upcoming season.

“It’s been nice being back as a team and just getting in a flow and just working out,” Scott said. “We’re definitely making progress. We’re definitely getting young guys in and getting them used to varsity. We’re definitely making progress.”

Skyline head coach Heath Gilbert said they have stopped doing weight lifting and their workouts until after school starts and then they will resume. Warren County Public Schools, which is using a hybrid method of learning, will start school on Sept. 8.

Skyline senior Will Wolf said that just being back in the weight room and doing the workouts together in small groups gives the players a feeling of normalcy.

“It really does give you a sense of normalcy and consistency that you’re used to having without the virus,” Wolf said. “So I think that’s definitely given people a peace of mind that we can get back on track. Telling them that this ain’t it, that we still have stuff left to do. That this virus isn’t going to take over everything.”

Stonewall Jackson first-year head coach Kyle Kokkonen said that the numbers haven’t been as great as he would like, but the players that have been there have handled things well.

Kokkonen said he team lifts weights and does conditioning twice a week. He said he told the players that if they arrive early they could throw the football around a little bit, using all of the COVID-19 protocols. He said the kids have been showing up earlier and have enjoyed being outside.

“I think every day they’re here is beneficial to us,” Kokkonen said. “I think we’re getting some things accomplished, getting back in shape a little bit.”

Kokkonen said they have had about 10 players for each of their workouts but it’s not always the same 10 players.

Stonewall Jackson junior quarterback Jacob Lemon said it helps to know that they are expecting to play football again in February.

“It’s a good aim point to get stuff back rolling, back in the swing of things before then,” Lemon said.

Warren County head coach Jerry Sarchet said they have mostly been working outside, doing conditioning and different football drills that they can do using the COVID protocols. He said they recently started lifting weights as well to help players get stronger and ready for the season.

He said that they have had around 25-30 kids each day, twice a week. He said he was proud of the way the players handled the news last month that football wouldn’t be played until February.

“To their credit, they’ve come back out,” Sarchet said. “We’ll have numbers rise and fall because of families going to the beach – normal summer stuff. But for the most part, they came back and had a great attitude. So hats off to them for just persevering through some adversity.”

Warren County senior Cody Crawford said that he and his teammates have tried to be upbeat during the tough times.

“Now that the season is getting delayed, it’s kind of hurtful especially being a senior,” Crawford said. “Because you don’t know if you’re ever going to get to play again for high school. But we try to keep the positive mindset through this and we try to push each other.”

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