Baldwin football hoping to start summer ball

Bob Watkins (left) is Baldwin's veteran varsity football coach. (Star file photo)

Bob Watkins (left) is Baldwin's veteran varsity football coach. (Star file photo)

BALDWIN - Baldwin football coach Bob Watkins was hopeful of being busy this week to get some type of summer conditioning started with his program.

Watkins noted he was waiting to get access to facilities and also implements for gauging temperatures and general overall health of his players.

"I'm still hanging out waiting to see what's going on," Watkins said on Monday, "before I send the kids any type of schedule. I don't have anything going on."

But he was still hoping to do something this week.

"If nothing else just get the feel of things going on and letting the kids know we're still serious and trying to give them some individual stuff they can do and get them acclimated to the heat," Watkins said.

Regular practices are slated to start on Aug. 10 with the season kickoff less than three weeks afterwards. But everything remains tentative.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer suggested last week the Michigan High School Athletic Association seriously consider having football next spring instead of this fall because of COVID-19.

It's apparently already under consideration by the MHSAA, which has said it will announce sometime after July 20 what it has planned for fall sports.

Since the sports season was closed in April, the MHSAA gradually has been allowing sports teams to have some type of conditioning activity, as long as social distancing is utilized. Fall sports are scheduled to begin practices in early August and in the meantime, teams are working on conditioning drills.

"As of (Wednesday), we are proceeding with fall sports this fall," MHSAA spokesman Geoff Kimmerly said. "But if the situation dictates we need to make some changes to have sports at all this fall, switching all of spring for all of fall sports absolutely is a possibility. We aren't ready to make that switch today, but we will announce either adjustments to fall sports with more precautions - or a possible season switch - during the third week of July or soon after.

"We plan on having a few similar contingencies ready in case fall sports won't be safe for this fall. For example, we could start sports in the fall and have to stop again - but will have a plan to pick them back up later. Whatever we do, we will be in lockstep with the Governor's office and the state health department, as we've been since this started in March."

Area athletic directors and coaches gave their reactions to Kimmerly's comments.

"My feelings are that we should keep the seasons the same and make adjustments as needed," Pine River's Shawn Ruppert said. "As an AD and baseball coach, what I don't want to see happen is spring sports get switched to this fall and then have them cancel the fall season or cut it short. The spring sports kids would then lose two seasons in a row which would be disastrous for them and those programs.

"I also question the ability to get a full football season in during the spring. By the time you have the mandatory practice dates and try to play a nine-game season, there is not a lot of time left for playoffs without going well into the summer. It would also be very tough on our football field; ours is very wet in the spring."