MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — This wasn’t the start Britt Sherman envisioned to his head coaching career.

Having officially held the title of Martinsburg’s football coach for nearly six weeks, Sherman currently finds himself in an unusual position. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, schools are closed statewide and players aren’t able to conduct workouts at local fitness centers or gyms, which are also shut down for the time being.

Sherman and his staff have developed the business as usual motto as they trust players to work on their own.

“It’s definitely strange, but we have blue collar kids at Martinsburg and they work hard,” Sherman said. “They’ve taken it upon themselves every year to keep tradition going and regardless of whether we’re in the weight room or kids are on their own, working hard is really important to them. They want to be Bulldog stars.”

Sherman helped guide the MHS offense the last four seasons before replacing longtime coach Dave Walker, who is now head coach at Concord University.

Over Sherman’s first three-plus weeks as head coach, the Bulldogs were able to pick up with their offseason conditioning program that began Jan. 6 — one month after the program notched its 56th consecutive win, fourth straight Class AAA championship and eighth title in 10 years.

Since March 13, however, players have had to discover ways to work out on their own.

“We’ve done group chats and challenged the kids to share videos of workouts they’ve done,” Sherman said. “Trying to do as much as we possibly can to stay active and not lose any steam before we’re hopefully able to head into the June period.”

Photo by Christopher C. Davis/@EP_BigCameraGuy

Martinsburg defeated Cabell Midland in the 2019 Class AAA title game. It marked the Bulldogs’ 56th straight win and fourth state championship in as many seasons.

As a teacher at Martinsburg, Sherman is offering all of his students home exercises through an online curriculum to continue with their fitness. A former head coach of the Bulldogs’ track and field program from 2011-2015, Sherman has plenty of familiarity with the conditoning required for athletes to stay in peak form.

“We have to do what we’re supposed to do and continue to work,” he said. “Fortunately, I didn’t have to be the first one to preach what to do. I had players messaging me as soon as this hit so they could get their cleats out of their lockers and get things done.”

As the COVID-19 virus spreads throughout West Virginia, it remains to be seen if schools reopen this year. Earlier this week, Gov. Jim Justice extended the statewide school closure until at least April 20.

“It’s been tough, but we’re managing,” Sherman said. “First it was, are we going to be able to get the whole group together? Then it was can we get some guys to work out together?”

“As we’ve learned more about how serious this is, the safety of our guys is the main concern and we’re trying to keep them apart so they don’t spread it to others,” Sherman added. “A lot of our guys come from single parent homes or are raised by grandparents. While the kids may be OK, this whole thing could really effect their home situation, so the safety aspect has been the biggest part.”