Wildcats open at East Limestone

Guntersville sophomore Brandon Fussell and his teammates launch preseason practice Monday. The Wildcats’ first game of the 2020 season is Aug. 21 at East Limestone.

GUNTERSVILLE – On Wednesday, the AHSAA announced fall sports practices and seasons would start on time, news which brought joy to the hearts and lives of student-athletes across the state.

Teams were allowed to return to campus the first week of June to begin summer workouts after the COVID-19 pandemic shut down all on-campus classes and activities in mid-March.

The AHSAA issued mandatory health and safety guidelines for summer workouts, and those guidelines remain in effect for preseason practices, which kick off Monday.

“We entered the summer with a lot of uncertainty about how this was going to affect the health of your coaches and players,” GHS head football coach Lance Reese said.

“To me, the fact that we’ve had just one athlete at Guntersville High School, out of all sports, that has been positive [for COVID-19] is a testament we can — if everybody does their job and does it right — go ahead and have successful sports seasons, and with expectations that we can remain healthy.”

The Wildcat student-athlete who tested positive was asymptomatic.

“This isn’t a study — it’s a first-hand observation,” Reese said. “You’ve got kids here, working under these guidelines for the first time.

“We’ve got soccer going up top, we’re down here and volleyball and basketball are going in the gym. The fact that we’ve had only one should be a reason for optimism for the season ahead.”

Reese said his players are excited the season won’t be delayed. Guntersville opens Aug. 21 at East Limestone and then travels to Arab on Aug. 28.

“Honestly, I thought they had a great attitude this summer, because it’s easy to kind of not work as hard when there’s no certainty about when you’re going to play,” Reese said.

“They worked hard and were out there running those 110s with nobody watching but us. It’s good to see their hard work is going to be worth something.”

Reese praised Guntersville’s senior class for the leadership it exhibited this summer.

“We don’t have a large group of seniors, but the seniors we have are quality, good people,” he said. “I can tell they’ve taken that leadership on themselves and they’re driven and they’ve been working hard, and that carries down to the younger guys, once they see how important this is to the seniors.

“The seniors have also been a help for us doing social distancing, because they want to play. They understand how important it is for us to do the right things, and they’ve done a good job setting the tone in that aspect as well.”

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