(MetroNews Talkline interview with Poca head coach Seth Ramsey)
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — After winning twenty games in the last two seasons, the Poca Dots are primed and ready to get the 2020 season started. In the new reality of COVID-19, head coach Seth Ramsey has an immediate goal for the team that doesn’t involve numbers on the scoreboard.
“The main thing is the safety of the kids and making sure we follow the guidelines that we have gotten from the SSAC, the Putnam County School Board and our school,” Ramsey said.
“We are making sure we go by the guidelines of checking kids in and keeping them in their separate pods and making sure we have different entry and exit points. We try to discourage them gathering in the parking lot when they are done.”
In a traditional offseason, most teams would utilize their three-week practice window in June. With the delayed start of the offseason calendar due to the pandemic, the sport-specific sessions are bumped to July.
“The way it is set up now where we are conditioning first and then practicing in July, I kind of like it better that way. We are getting them in shape and then we do all the strength and conditioning and agility and speed work, and then in July we are going to have our three-week period in Phase III. That will help us build upon more of what we install in July.
“I like the way it is set up now. I hate the circumstances that we are in to get to this point to do it.”
Every offseason brings question marks as coaches look to put the pieces together for the following year. Ramsey says a new batch of questions will need to be answered.
“It is a lot of new territory. I don’t know what it is going to look like. Are they going to cap the number of fans at a game? A big thing we are talking about right now is travel. Are we going to be allowed to get on the busses? Do we have to take more busses this year to keep them socially distanced? We have to be flexible with things.
“A lot of these steps may seem tedious but we have to do whatever we need to do to get back to some sense of normalcy, some sense of routine for these kids. Obviously, our thoughts and prayers are out with any family or anyone who has been affected by this virus.”
Putnam County schools are in the second week of Phase I drills and they will transition to Phase II next week. Even though the Dots are broken up into small groups for now, Ramsey is happy to see his guys back on the field.
“We miss the camaraderie with them. We miss teaching them. We miss coaching them. We miss checking up on them and seeing them in person. You can call and ‘Zoom’ all you want but to get them in person to have some banter with them and get them back down here, that’s what we want.”
Poca is 20-3 over the last two seasons after winning just five games from 2012-2017. They will welcome back an experienced roster led by Kennedy Award winning running back Ethan Payne, leading receiver Toby Payne and multi-year starting quarterback Jay Cook.
“Right now we are undefeated. Hopefully we can stay that way. We have a good group of kids coming back. Health is going to be a big thing. If we stay healthy we could have a pretty good season. We have a lot of guys that have played a lot of football for us. There’s a lot of excitement.
“We are the smallest Class AA school so we are not going to have 65-70 kids out. We are going to be right around 40-45 kids. Everyone is working hard. You can tell a lot of these kids have been working hard through the quarantine. That was great to see.”