Football coaches are creatures of habit.
Some call them superstitious, others call them detailed. No matter the descriptor, football coaches — and thus their teams — stick to a routine.
That is, until Mother Nature decides it’s time to disturb that routine, just as she has the last week.
Last Friday, several areas in south central Pennsylvania saw severe flooding after torrential rains in the late afternoon, leading several games involving York-Adams League teams to be postponed.
As expected, most postponed games were played Saturday, but Dallastown and Dover had their road games pushed back to Monday. Dallastown head coach Ron Miller and Dover head coach Wayne Snelbaker both said the change threw a wrench into the game preparations for both teams this week.
“It’s tough on the kids and the coaching staff,” Miller said. “…We have to deal with that adversity, and maybe it pays off down the road. Things won’t always go as planned.”
Why Monday?: Since both teams were the visiting team, neither had much say in picking the day or time of the makeup, both coaches said. Dallastown played Manheim Township Monday, losing 38-0, while Dover traveled to Elizabethtown, falling 61-40.
“We had nothing to do with that decision,” Miller said. “…We were hoping to play on Saturday. I’m not going to speak for Manheim Township. We just play when we’re told to play.”
Snelbaker said he was told by Elizabethtown that the stadium would be too wet to play on Saturday.
“That’s what I was told,” said Snelbaker, who is in his fourth year at the helm and in his 23rd year as a football coach. “I’ve never done this before, playing on a Monday.”
Scorching temperatures: Losing two practice days — Saturday and Monday — is hard enough, but both teams then had to deal with blistering practice weather this week.
With temperatures in the low 90s — and the heat index over 100 degrees — teams couldn’t practice like they would during a normal September week. For Dallastown and Dover, almost all practice time was without pads and featured extra breaks.
“(The heat) makes it tricky,” Miller said. “There were times we had our helmets and shoulder pads on, and then others when we didn’t. It’s been challenging with the heat of course. The kids have done a good job with it, though.”
Recovery: High school kids have a quicker recovery clock than most people. Playing two football games in five days isn’t as challenging for a 16-year-old as many would think.
On the other hand, the Eagles and Wildcats are still playing two physical games in five days — something none of the players have likely done in their young lives.
“I think we’ve got some pretty tough kids,” Snelbaker said. “We came out of Monday pretty healthy. The fortunate part for us is that we’re now to a part in our program that we have enough kids out that we can put some backups in to get some starters rest if we need to.”
Snelbaker said while the heat has been a difficult challenge, it may also have its advantages. It allowed his players a chance to recover faster than they maybe would during a normal week.
“With the heat index being so high, I think it has kind of helped us, in it got us out of full pads,” he said. “We’ve had a chance to heal.”
Hunting for a win: Both coaches are obviously concerned with their teams' health and rest, of course, but both also indicated an urgency to win Friday. Both are 0-2 on the young season after solid campaigns last year.
“Obviously, right now we need to come out of the winning side of this thing,” Snelbaker said. “We need to get a win, but we also need to be smart with our kids, as well, because we go into league play next week.”
“We’re desperate for a win,” Miller said. “If we want to reach the goals we set at the beginning of the year, we need to get this ship righted.”
Friday, Dallastown hosts Penn Manor, while Dover welcomes Red Land.
Reach Jacob Calvin Meyer at firstname.lastname@example.org.