TYLER, Texas (KETK) – High school football in East Texas is something special.
But beyond the talent on the field, the atmosphere created by the fans in the stands elevates any gird iron experience in the Pineywoods.
“It feels great, I mean, the fans are a big part, and they definitely love watching, and it’s great to see them out there,” said Whitehouse quarterback Joey Conflitti.
After a season of limited capacity, most stadiums are planning to be fully open this year, but coaches and athletic directors know, with COVID-19, nothing can be taken for granted.
“I know where we’re at right now, nobody knows what tomorrow is going to bring,” said Lufkin athletic director and head football coach Todd Quick. “We have to have a plan and be able to adjust the plan if something changes.”
“Being able to have a normal season is good, but we are trying to be smart and know that it’s out there,” said Whitehouse head football coach Kyle Westerberg.
This is why, while many of the COVID restrictions have been lifted, coaches still want their players to be vigilant, and keep themselves healthy.
“We are still sanitizing, we are still taking the precautions needed to make sure that we’re not in a huge group all the time, we’re still doing the regular stuff you have to do to be safe,” said Quick.
“We’re just telling the guys every day just like it was in the past, social distance try to spread out as much as possible,” said Westerberg.
“We have a great effective way, if you are sick, stay home, and getting in contact with coaches so it doesn’t spread,” said Conflitti.
Football in East Texas is unlike anything else, and the teams know something is missing when they can’t hear the roar of the crowd.
“Tt’s an advantage, and an advantage usually when we travel, so it’ll be good it will feel more like a regular game than a scrimmage,” said Quick.
“Here at Whitehouse, having the fans in the stands, you know, having that kind of 12th man, it definitely kind of plays to your advantage,” said Westerberg.
The future is still uncertain, but as of right now, high school football in East Texas looks to be back in business.