Having their temperatures checked and being asked, "Do you have any COVID-19 symptoms?" before every practice is annoying, Challis junior high football players admitted, but it beats the alternative.
"I'm just happy we get to play," 13-year-old Korbyn Arneson said. Arneson and his 13 teammate get their temperatures checked by a coach and answer a list of questions to prove they are healthy enough to play with others at every practice session. Those are two measures taken by the Challis School District to ensure the safety of players, spectators and coaches during the coronavirus pandemic.
"It's been fine," defensive coach Andrew Cutler said before he used a digital thermometer on each student athlete. "We just want to play football."
Andrew and his brother, head coach Skyler Cutler, said the most important part of the season is treating it like the rest. Skyler said he and his players are too focused on what they need to do on the field to complain about new rules.
Even with Custer County moving into the moderate risk category for the coronavirus, Skyler said practice will continue. The benefit of football is it's played outside on a large field, Sklyer said, so his team can play during the pandemic. However, with the county now in the moderate risk category, the school district had to move to the yellow phase of its reopening plan. That means only family members of the players can attend games and everyone except players must wear face coverings.
13-year-old Ryson Rowberry, a first-year football player, admitted the worst part of the new rules are the interruptions to practice. As they were warming up last week before hitting drills, the teens had to stop so Andrew could ask each one how they were feeling and take their temperature.
"It's annoying, but it's fine," Rowberry said.
Andrew said one of the great things about football is that it teaches youths the importance of overcoming tribulations. It sucks to take a loss, Andrew said, but people can learn a lot more from a defeat than a victory.
Both Cutlers said that's the theme for this year of football. The siblings are also on the high school football staff, and they said their returning players want to show off what they learned last season.
After losing every varsity game last year, mostly by wide margins, Skyler said the juniors and seniors who are back want redemption. "They're looking tough," he said, and the group of freshman head coach Marty Mitchell is working with looks good as well.