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COVID or no, Mount Shasta Bears hard at work preparing for football season

Bill Choy
Mount Shasta Herald
Mount Shasta High School senior JT Kennedy during a practice at Joe Blevins Memorial Stadium.

On a sunny fall day with clear blue skies, members of the Mount Shasta Bears varsity football team were on Joe Blevins Memorial Stadium’s field practicing for the upcoming season, whenever it begins.

New head coach Mitch Crossley watched his team run plays intently as he gave words of encouragement as well as ways of fine-tuning play.

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He said they have installed new plays and his players have embraced practice, even wearing masks. He said it was a challenge for them after not being able to do much of anything for months on end due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“They are competitors and have been working hard,” said Crossley of his team, which was coached last year by Dave Kindley. “They are excited to be back out here again.”

The COVID-19 pandemic caused spring sports to be called off last spring. The team is following a number of safety guidelines to make sure everyone is safe on the field.

High School sports have been delayed until next year, and football games aren’t expected to start until March.

Cole Kindley looks to throw a pass during a practice at Joe Blevins Memorial Stadium in Mount Shasta.

Teams at MSHS have been meeting a few times a week for practices using social distancing measures. Some football players are also on the basketball team, so some are only practicing with the basketball team and will  rotate the arrangement every few weeks. 

On the other end of the field last Wednesday, members of the Bears’ JV team were also practicing.

Crossley said the poor air quality from smoke caused a few weeks of practice to be called off and he was glad to have the team back out practicing again.

“Every player understands the importance of each practice to be ready when the season starts,” he added. “We have a dedicated group of kids.”

Crossley said practicing now gives the Bears a  head start, which is especially important in Mount Shasta where snowy conditions will make practicing outdoors difficult or impossible.

During one play, Crossley had a minor critique of how it was run and he carefully went over how the team could improve its execution. He made it clear, however, that he was pleased overall.

“It’s still good,” he said. “I’ll take that all day long.”

Crossley, who also teaches math at MSHS and has coached at larger schools said he is enjoying the smaller school experience where he’s able to get to know his players better.

He said he has high hopes for the Bears and his experiences working with them have been positive overall.

“They are just really good down to earth kids,” Crossley said. He added that they all work together and are focused on the team and individual success.

Senior JT Kennedy said it means a lot to have the opportunity be playing football again. He said for many players like himself, high school will likely be the last time he plays the sport and he is working hard to make the most of it.

Kennedy added that he missed his teammates and was glad they have been given a chance to practice and prepare for the season.

“It just feels good to be back,” he said. “I’m glad we can show up again as a team and run plays with the ball.”

If they are able to play next year, JT is hopeful it will signal a return to things getting more back to normal.