The sound of pads colliding and whistles blowing filled the air on the Morristown East football practice field Thursday morning.
The Hurricanes, led by coach Caleb Slover, took part in their fourth day of contact practice since Gov. Lee signed Executive Order No.55 which allowed contact sports to resume normal practice last Friday.
And, East wasted no time getting right back at it.
The team, which consists of around 90 players, were in full pads as contact drills took up the majority of practice time as East prepares for their season opener against West in just two weeks.
“I think it has been great,” Slover said about the resumption of practice. “Our kids have been great all year and all summer. Through this whole thing, they have shown up and come to work. We’ve had about 90 kids every day. They’re coming and doing what they’re supposed to be doing. The most important thing is that they’re staying safe and healthy. Right now, that is the biggest thing for us being able to stay clean and healthy.”
With such a short time to prepare, the schedule and intensity of practice has increased over the first week of contact practice. On Thursday, the team worked on tackling and blocking drills as well as some air drills to get the receivers and quarterbacks on the same page.
The team finished with 11-on-11 work where the offense flexed its muscles, moving the ball down the field time and time again.
“We have (had to intensify practice more), but we’re in the same boat as everyone else,” Slover said. “They all started at the same time we need. It’s different when you come out here and condition and you run as opposed to coming out here and putting the pads on and practicing and then running. That’s the big thing for us. We’re trying to get as much physical stuff done that we can, getting out bodies tired, and then conditioning at the end so that we’re in better game shape when it’s go time.”
Despite having the 2019 Citizen Tribune All-Lakeway Offensive Player of the Year Cole Henson return at quarterback, East has holes to fill on the offense, with wide receiver being one of the biggest question mark for Slover and his team.
“I think everybody is going to be rusty all the way around, especially when you lose a couple of guys at receivers and have a couple of new guys you have to fill in and get those guys used to running the routes,” Slover said. “There’s a little bit of rust there on the passing game and a little bit of rust on the back end, just because most of that stuff is technique stuff.”
East will now have two weeks to prepare for cross-town rival Morristown West. However, with COVID-19 cases still high and school not being in session, the game has not officially been confirmed.
For now, Slover and his team are preparing as if they will be playing in two weeks until they are told otherwise.
“We’re going to prepare for them like we’re playing,” Slover said. “Until a decision is made that we’re not, we’re going to prepare to play Friday or next Thursday or whenever Dr. Perry decides it. If we can play, we’re going to go out and get ready to play like it’s a normal week.”