Local high school football teams navigate the future during COVID-19
HALLSVILLE - If you know anything about Mid-Missouri high school football, you probably know the story of last year's Hallsville football team.
The 2019-2020 season wasn't just historic. It was a game changer.
"Man, it's just goosebumps thinking about it," said Justin Conyers, the Hallsville football coach.
First, let's rewind to the end of the 2018-2019 season. The Indians had three wins the entire year, never even making it close to a run in the playoffs.
Following that season, the school announced former Battle football coach Justin Conyers would take the helm of the program.
That's where it all started.
"The success was here. It was really just finding a way to build that family atmosphere in the locker room and the brotherhood the way we did," Conyers said.
The success came pretty quickly. The team more than doubled its win total from the previous season and came up with the town's first district title.
"It's an amazing thing that happened and I'm glad that it happened my senior year", said Cooper Crane, a Hallsville senior.
Now, as they do for most of us, things look a lot different.
"My fear now is, really, the unknown," Conyers said.
The last time Conyers saw most of his players in person was back on March 17th. Now he's concerned that the timeline may be extended.
"I'm worried that we get to the summer months and MSHSAA takes away our contact days," he said. "Having those 20 contact days, we graduate all five of our offensive lineman, so we need that time, that face-to-face, that hands-on contact with these kids in the summer."
But the team is taking this time as a chance to get ahead.
"In my situation, for me personally, I see it as an opportunity, instead of a disadvantage," said Tyger Cobb, a Hallsville sophomore.
After all, everybody is going through the same thing.
Hallsville said it is focused on bringing the town back to another district title. So, the team has continued to workout and communicate from home through the pandemic.
"You're going to have your kids that are going to stay doing stuff no matter what. So it's, how do we reach the ones that we are a little concerned about," Conyers said. "They may not have the access to stuff to do things at home."
"They've been really finding home workouts and Coach Conyers and the other coaches have been sending us home workouts to do with little to no equipment," Cobb said.
Conyers said he is optimistic that he and his players will have summer practices again, and from that, have the repeat season they are dreaming of, but it's not just for personal gain.
"Football, really, can bring a town together and we saw that this past fall," Conyers said.
Players and coaches alike said they know this season will bring one thing to the community: relief.
"A lot of the stuff I'm used to and want to do is not possible right now," Cobb said. "It would just be a sigh of relief."