Clark: “a couple” COVID cases for App State football

Silas Albright, Sports Editor

App State head football coach Shawn Clark and his program are adapting to the unusual circumstances COVID-19 has caused. 

One important step to beginning the season is testing everyone in the program for the virus. Clark didn’t confirm a number of positive COVID-19 results, but he said the team has been “very lucky” during a Zoom call Thursday morning.

“We’ve had a couple positives, but we were on those very quick,” Clark said. “We follow the university’s guidelines and do what we have to do to quarantine our players.”

Clark also discussed some of the ways the program is preventing the spread of the coronavirus, including mandatory masks while in the athletics building and limiting workout groups to nine players and a strength coach at a time.

Schools across the country are modifying their training. Temple University set up its football weightlifting equipment under a tent on their practice field. Clark explained that the Mountaineers are using a system of small groups when working out and running to prevent the spread. 

“We try to keep our players in a bubble, in that same group at all times,” Clark said. “In case there is an outbreak, we’ll know exactly where it is.” 

Clark also pointed out that while the adjustment has been a challenge, it’s not something that only App State is dealing with.

“(It’s) not just me, (it’s) around the nation,” Clark said. “Coach Mack Brown has been a great mentor to me the last few months. I think we’re learning day-by-day, of what you can do and what you can’t do.” 

Clark said the coaching staff has been communicating with the team “to make sure we’re doing everything possible this season goes on.” 

“We explained to those guys that if you want a football season, you need to wear a mask,” Clark said. “We need to stop the spread.”

The program has a variety of plans for starting the football season at different times throughout the year, depending on the official ruling from the NCAA. Clark said they have plans in place for an Aug. 6 start, a September start, an October start and a spring start. 

Clark also explained the workout calendar put in place by the NCAA for summer workouts. Right now, the Mountaineers are in voluntary workouts, meaning coaches have no contact with players. 

The next stage is mandatory workouts, set to begin July 13. For stages one and two, players can have eight hours (six hours of weightlifting and two hours of film study) of team activity per week. 

On July 27, the number of hours of team activities per week increases to 20, allowing the team to do walkthroughs and individual meetings. 

Along with the pandemic, the program is also dealing with the ongoing construction at Kidd Brewer Stadium. The team has been using the Sofield Family Indoor Practice facility and Clark noted the difference between running and working inside versus outside. 

Clark said construction should be finished by July 31, giving the team six days on the field before fall training camp begins. 

“I feel very good (about) where we are,” Clark said. “We’ll just keep our fingers crossed that the season starts in time.”