CARTHAGE, N.Y. (WWNY) - It could be a long summer for local sports fans, with most events usually taking place in the area cancelled due to COVID-19. But for one semi-pro football team, it’s still all systems go for hitting the gridiron and having a 2020 season.
With the Empire Football League, home of the Watertown Red and Black, cancelling their season a few weeks back due to COVID-19, there’s only one semi-pro football team still on track to have a 2020 season: the Carthage Revolution.
Team owner Leon Eldridge says the Northeastern Football Alliance, the league the Revolution play in, is shooting for a tentative start date in July.
“We’re scheduled for July 11th, but with any conference, you have to have a league meeting prior to that. So, we’re just waiting on the word from the commissioner to give us a better update of when we’re gonna have this league meeting. He’s been very transparent about everything that’s going on and he’s just waiting on a few things to happen as far as the owners. Making sure they confirm they have a field, make sure the referees are involved. Once he has all that information, then he’ll set up a time for the league meeting,” said Eldridge.
Eldridge says that after the league meeting, if it’s all systems go, the Revolution will have plans in place and will follow the guidelines set by Public Health and the CDC to ensure players safety during practice and games.
“Like I said, we’ll have to do temperatures, we’ll check the temperatures, annotate each individual, keep an average of the temperatures. If we have somebody that shows up that has what is considered a high temperature, then we’ll have to send those guys home, and in 14 days, we’ll be able to see them again according to what the guidelines state right now,” said Eldridge.
And when practices do start, getting work in may be a difficult task with the number of players allowed in groups and on the field limited. Something that Revolution Coach Jon Fisher says he’s been anticipating and planning for.
“I haven’t really discussed it with my coaches, but like I said, I’ve been by myself. Been thinking about it, and I would say with 9 players and 1 coach per group would be set aside and I would put them per in different locations so we just would all be in a different spots,” said Fisher.
Not being able to hold 11 on 11 drills during practice would make it tough not only on the coaches as far as game planning is concerned, but for the players as well, who rely on live action during practice to get game ready.
“It’s gonna make it very hard, especially for the defense, because you know- Practicing tackling drills only thing they’re gonna be able to do is, you know, when it comes to game speed time it’s gonna be very hard to do when you’re not use to tackling another human and all you get to tackle is a practice dummy,” said Fisher.
If the league sticks with it’s intended start date of July 11th, Fisher says the Revolution would need to hit the field very soon for practice in order to be ready for their first game of the season.
“I would say at least a month, but hopefully we can go 2 to 3 weeks of practice,” said Fisher.
With the clock ticking, a decision on starting the season on time, pushing it back once again or cancelling it should be coming in the next week or two.
After the successful kickoff of the 2020 season at the Can-Am Speedway Friday night, track officials announced Saturday night they will race this Friday following the same guidelines set by the state due to COVID-19.
Track owner Tyler Bartlett says fans will once again not be allowed to be in the stands, but the races will be broadcast on pay per view.
Originally, Can-Am had indicated the next race at the track would be the BAPST Shootout on Wednesday, July 1st, but due to an overwhelming response, they decided to race once again this week.
“You know, the teams had nothing but positive things to say. Friday night was, you know, it turned out, it couldn’t have been better. It turned out great. Saturday, my phone went nuts all day. 5 different track owners in New York State calling, looking for information. And nothing but optimism and positive thoughts, and it’s been a busy weekend just chit chatting about how successful Friday was to get back to action at Can-Am on Friday nights,” said Bartlett.