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MANNING - There was an oblong sphere flying through the air on the campus of Laurence Manning Academy on Thursday.
It was a football!
LMA, along with many of the other South Carolina Independent School Association football programs, were able to introduce the ball itself into workouts on Thursday as part of Phase 2 in the return to sports from the coronavirus pandemic.
"It was a good thing definitely to be with the kids, put a football in and run some plays," said Swampcats head coach Austin Floyd.
After two weeks of conditioning and weightlifting in Phase 1 and then having the start of Phase 2 delayed due to a spike in the coronavirus numbers in the state, equipment could be incorporated into any of the sports holding practices for the first time on Thursday.
"It was great to get out here with my teammates, have the football and be able to go over some stuff," said Laurence Manning's Nolan Osteen.
LMA actually went through the routine it had used in Phase 1 - conditioning and weightlifting - before having one group with receivers catching passes and another with backs working on plays in LMA's Wing-T formation offense.
"We were able let the linemen go condition and we were able to come out and run through some of our base plays and have some of our receivers run routes," Floyd said.
The players were in the same pods on Thursday that they had been in the two previous weeks.
Of course, keeping the footballs cleaned and sanitized may have been the most important part of practice.
"That's why we have all the Clorox wipes out here," Floyd said. "We're going through the Clorox wipes like crazy."
Floyd said everyone is still having their temperatures taken each day when they arrive. No one has arrived with a fever since the return began.
Robert E. Lee Academy football head coach David Rankin said that he too has had no players arrive with a temperature. He did have some arrive on Thursday carrying a bit more excitement, however.
"There was a little more pep in the step," Rankin said. "Running every day and lifting weights get old. The kids are a lot happier throwing the football around."
Wilson Hall football head coach Adam Jarecki echoed the same sentiments.
"They were a little more excited about that," Jarecki said. "They like that instead of running. We threw it around some and got the machine out and let them catch balls off the machine. The boys enjoyed it, I know that."
The LMA offensive linemen are being left out of the loop in regards to the football, still having to lift and condition. Floyd plans on doing some things with them next week.
"We'll keep the linemen after one day, skill kids after one day and do some more football-specific stuff," he said.
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