By Ray Hamill — Eureka football head coach Andrew Haraldson has paid tribute to his players for their “phenomenal” attitude since returning to restricted practice this past week, and believes that’s exactly why the season could be a huge success for the entire H-DNL.
The Loggers began their practice sessions at Albee Stadium on Monday and will continue to meet three times a week in a socially distanced set-up.
And Haraldson said he and his coaching staff have been inspired by the attitude of the players, who are very appreciative just to be back.
“Their attitude and energy has been phenomenal, just awesome,” said Haraldson, the team’s long-time defensive coordinator who took over as head coach from the retired Jason White earlier this year. “They’re happy to be back and they’re working hard.”
It’s something that the coach believes could make a big difference in a potentially challenging all-local H-DNL schedule, which is tentatively set to kick off in February.
“I do feel that their attitude is just so appreciative, and I think that would carry over if there is a season,” he said. “Every play we get we’re going to appreciate.”
Haraldson is also confident that the coaches and players around the league would approach an all-local schedule with the right attitude, including the potential miss-matches between bigger and smaller programs.
The league still has to finalize its schedule, but is tentatively leaning towards a format that would see all nine programs play each other once each.
“When we play teams like South Fork and Hoopa, we would definitely approach it in the right way,” he said. “Like (Fortuna head coach) Mike Benbow said, if we do this it has to be about the kids.”
Haraldson admits many of his players’ bodies were “shocked” by the resumption after such a long layoff, with high school sports on shutdown since mid-March.
The team practiced on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, separated into five groups of 14 players, going through five different strength and conditioning stations, followed by five different agility stations.
Social distancing was maintained and the equipment and stations were sanitized in between use.
“It’s definitely a coordinated group effort,” he said. “But we’re getting it.”
The coach added that he wants his players to enjoy the moment more than anything.
“There are two things we’re telling the kids every day,” he said. “We’re going to appreciate the fact we get to be out there, because we don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow, and we’re going to encourage the people next to us.”
There are reports this week that California Governor Gavin Newsom is set to address the situation with youth and high school sports in the coming days.