December 4th, 2020 by Joshua Ross (Photos by Jennifer Estes)
Although they didn't play an official down of football this fall, the Harbormen definitely made the most of their unique situation. Based upon the state's EEA and MIAA's recommendations, high school football was postponed until February 2021, when a new Fall II sports season will take place. The state did, however, allow programs to hold intra-squad practices during the Fall season.
Head Coach Mark Nutley and his coaching staff used this time to not only evaluate the 78 players that participated, but get back to basics that he normally doesn't have the opportunity to do during a regular season.
"(We focused on) stuff you just can't do during the season because you're scrambling to get ready for a game on Friday night." Nutley says. "We used that whole month and half and just worked on individual drills."
The team was allowed to practice 2 days a week for 90 minutes each day. The players were separated into two groups, each working on offense for 45 minutes and defense for 45 minutes.
"The defensive backs got to work on man and zone coverage schemes. The offensive linemen got to work on stepping correctly and getting their hands in a good place. The quarterbacks got to work on reading defenses. I felt like it was very, very useful to have that month and a half of just drills the whole time." Nutley added.
Going into it, Nutley expressed that he and his staff were a little concerned that after a few weeks of just practice and no game action the kids might get bored. Coach was pleasantly surprised with the player's approach to their time on the field.
"The kids bought into it," he said. "They showed up every Tuesday and Wednesday and their effort was through the roof. They absorbed the coaching like sponges. Everything we told them, they worked on. The effort of the kids were great. The coaches really loved the effort every day by the kids. It was exciting to see."
Because of their hard work and effort, Coach Nutley wanted to reward them with a season ending 7v7 scrimmage, just like he did when he coached college ball after holding spring practices. The showcase took place a few weeks ago on a Friday night under the lights on the turf field. The team was split up into 3 groups - linemen, underclassmen and upperclassmen. Each group played 7 vs 7, which gave everyone a chance to get at least a little bit of game action this season.
"It was great. We used the scoreboard. It was under the lights on a Friday night. We got to have some parents there," Nutley explained. "I did some announcing on the PA system. It was a lot of fun. It was a good way to end our fall football season."
Nutley and his team now turn their attention to their second offseason of the year and wait for the MIAA to make their final decision on the Fall II season in the next couple of months. In the meantime, Coach has his kids focused on off-field weight training and using this bonus time wisely preparing themselves to get back on the field sometime in chilly February.
"It's going to be cold, but whatever. It's better than not having a season at all. Those first couple of weeks are going to be chilly, but it's football and we are excited for it."