WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - High School football teams across the state held their first official practices on Monday.
The North Carolina High School Athletic Association delayed the start to the season because football was ruled high risk for COVID-19.
For the Hoggard Vikings the start to the first practice was better late than never. Having waited nearly six months, the players questioned whether they would even have a season.
“I was very concerned. We weren’t hearing a lot; everything was kept quiet,” said senior Gab Johnson. “At the end of the day, we have our season and that’s good.”
“We had a lot of doubt,” added senior Jaylin Allen. “We just had to keep our heads high, keep working, and hope we have a game next week.”
What made the wait even worse was seeing other states like South Carolina and Georgia play football seasons on time.
“Seeing that just made us frustrated but it made us want to be on the field as much as possible, so we came out and worked every day,” said senior Issaa Baggett.
Before, during, and after practice, coaches reminded them about the importance of staying safe from COVID-19. One positive case could pause or even end the season.
“It’s just one of the adjustments we’ve had to make,” said Hoggard coach Craig Underwood. “This is a part of daily life right now. And if we want to play this game we love, these are [the] things we have to do.”
“It’s very important. We got to have our mask up, socially distance -- last thing we want to do is be shut down because of COVID,” added senior Bryce Nelepa.
Week one of the regular season begins Feb. 26.