As high school athletes and coaches are learning how to adjust to life during a pandemic, following health and safety precautions are becoming more and more important.

The Georgia High School Associate released new guidelines last week that ease restrictions for high school sports programs across the state, with Cedartown head football coach Jamie Abrams happy about the change.

“I am glad that they are easing the restrictions a little bit,” said the first-year head coach. “Before, we could only have 25 people in one place at one time, but now we can have 50. It isn’t ‘normal’ yet, but it’s getting closer to that.”

You’d be hard pressed to find a tougher time to take over a program than the 2020 offseason. Coaches rely on one-on-one time with players to truly evaluate their strengths and weaknesses. Otherwise it puts coaches at new schools at a disadvantage from their counterparts who are returning.

Updated guidelines went into effect on Monday, which also allow athletes to use balls and sport-specific equipment during voluntary summer conditioning. Teams are still required to practice social distancing and maintain extra cleaning of equipment and facilities.

Although he has had an unconventional first spring at the helm of Cedartown football, coach Abrams says that he is going with the flow.

“It’s definitely not what I expected to have happen this summer, but it is what it is,” Abrams said. “You just have to do everything you can to get your guys prepared in time.”

Abrams mentioned that players are practicing Monday through Thursday, but different groups workout on different days according to grade level and position.

“With the new guidelines we will have to change the groups up a little bit, and we’re still working that out, but our guys will still be out there Monday through Thursday.

“I really am excited to start this season, and I think we are in a good spot, but we still have a lot of unanswered questions,” he said. “Up until this point, I’ve yet to see one guy throwing a football, catching a football, or running with a football. Thankfully, that will change when the new rules go into effect (this past) Monday — allowing the use of balls — but as of now we still don’t know for sure what we’re working with.”

Despite the uncertainty that he is currently facing, Abrams is still proud of his players’ efforts so far.

“We had them doing individual workouts before we could meet face-to-face, so we had a pretty good amount of guys in shape when we started meeting,” Abrams said. “Now our job is to keep that up and get them ready for the season. Two months isn’t a lot of time at all, but it’s what we’re facing right now.”

Cedartown football is scheduled to open its season with a scrimmage at Haralson County on Aug. 14. Its first regular season game will take place on Aug. 21 when the Bulldogs meet the Carrollton Trojans under the lights at Barron Stadium in Rome for a Corky Kell Classic matchup.

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