STRASBURG – It's been a different week of preparation for Strasburg's football team.
Due to COVID-19 issues, the Rams were without a chunk of its team for most of this week and they rescheduled their home game with Manassas Park for 6 p.m. Monday. Strasburg coach Mark Roller said before Thursday's practice that they were doing the best they could with the situation. He said the players who weren't quarantined showed up for short practices each day Monday-Thursday.
"We've been working on some things, with some specialty kids – quarterbacks, kickers," Roller said. "We don't have many, we're just kind of getting out there and keeping them active a little bit and doing a little running. And hopefully, that's what our guys that are quarantined are doing."
Roller said the rest of the team was scheduled to return on Friday and they would have normal practices Friday and today to prepare for Manassas Park.
Roller said the week was a little bit like when you have a bye the final week of the season and you don't know if you're going to be in the playoffs or not. He said they tried to keep things light and fun for the players who were there.
"We've played a few games with them," Roller said. "We've just done some conditioning activities with them and that's about all you can do with them."
Mark Roller's son, Ryan, said the team enjoyed the time they were able to spend together with the shorter practices.
"It's been pretty simple," Ryan Roller said. "It's a little bit of fun. We've done some fun conditioning drills. I've liked it."
Mark Roller said the whole team was getting together on a Zoom call Thursday and watch film together and go over the plan for the weekend and Monday.
He said he's been in touch with a few of the quarantined players through texts and said some of them were doing conditioning activities on their own.
"It's not like they're sick," Mark Roller said. "They just got to stay away. So if they've done some running on their own, certainly they'll be in a little bit better shape than just sitting around the house for the whole week."
Mark Roller said despite Class 3 Manassas Park's winless record, his team will need to be focused and ready for a hard-fought game.
"They're one of those bigger teams that we get to play again," he said. "Even though their record is not on the positive side they're still an explosive team. So we got to make sure we do things right fundamentally. And take care of everything that we need to take care of offensively and I think we'll be OK."
Manassas Park (0-5, 0-1 Class 3 Northwestern) has been outscored 273-0 in five games.
The Rams (3-1, 0-1 Bull Run) haven't played since a 22-12 loss to Clarke County on Sept. 24. Strasburg had to postpone its scheduled Oct. 1 game with East Rockingham due to COVID-19 issues.
Ryan Roller, a junior, said he feels like the team will be able to bounce back and play well against the Cougars.
"We're doing pretty good this season," Ryan Roller said. "Coming off the quarantine I hope we still got it. I hope that we still got the drive that we had before – I think we will. I think those guys want to get back in and really start practicing and going back at it."
Offensively, the Rams are averaging 216.5 yards per game. Ryan Roller has thrown for 179 yards and two touchdowns. The ground game has been led by senior Brady Neary with 181 yards rushing and two scores and senior Tanner Jenkins with 164 rushing yards and one touchdown.
Strasburg's defense has been the strength of the team all season. The Rams are allowing just 234.8 yards and 12.8 points per contest. Ryan Roller has an area-best three interceptions to lead the secondary.
"Defensively, we just work hard," Ryan Roller said. "In the past years, we were usually pretty defensively sound. This year we want to keep it the same way, and I think we've been doing pretty well at that."
Strasburg rescheduled the East Rockingham game for Nov. 2 and will now have to play Page County (Oct. 28), East Rockingham and Central (Nov. 6) in a span of 10 days.
Mark Roller said he is concerned with the schedule, especially considering all three teams are physical teams.
"When you have 29 guys on your roster," he said. "and you're limited there a little bit there to certain spots, you want those other guys to be able to rise to the occasion and be able to fill in and take some reps. And that's what we've been preaching from day one is, you might not be a starter or a guy who can fill in right now but by the time the end of the season rolls around, we want you to be there. And some of those sophomores are getting to that point. So hopefully that can happen and you just hope you don't get beat up too much."
Mark Roller said against Manassas Park the key will be limiting some of the penalties that will typically happen when you haven't practiced as much.
"From what we've dealt with, obviously you're going to have some mistakes Monday just because the group of them haven't been together," Mark Roller said. "So we're going to have to minimize our mistakes of the 5-yard penalties. Whether it's jumping offsides, false starts. Those types of things things that you hope don't happen, but I think they're going to happen. I'd just like to see them go out there and pick up, not quite where we left off, but close to it. So I think they can do that."