WHITE OAK — When the COVID-19 pandemic put an end to offseason training in mid-March, White Oak football coach Kris Iske could only wince.
The Roughnecks, coming off a disappointing 0-10 campaign in 2019, desperately needed an offseason to wash the bad taste from their mouth.
Needless to say, when the University Interscholastic League opened the door to summer training three weeks ago, Iske, like most other coaches across Texas, was excited to hit the restart button.
“This is unprecedented what we’ve seen. But we’re able to adapt. It’s amazing how good the kids have done. Our coaches put together a good plan for summer workouts and it’s working,” said Iske, who has a 37-29 record in six years with the Roughnecks.
“I actually kind of like what we’re doing now compared to what we’ve done in the past. This was extremely important for us to get back out. We’ve missed them from spring break on.”
The Roughnecks are certainly a work in progress and have a way to go. But Iske likes the attitude his young men have shown up to work with.
“The relationship you have with the kids is what I missed most. They’re like my own kids. And when they’re not around you miss them,” said Iske. “They were eager to get back and had great attitudes. I don’t know if it was from being out so long, but everything’s been positive and I think it’s gonna be a great season for us.”
An estimated 50 varsity hopefuls reported for the start of UIL allotted sports specific training three weeks ago and Iske has been encouraged with what he’s seen.
“We can throw and catch with certain receivers using the same quarterback. We wipe down the ball regularly, keep everyone in their groups and maintain the social distance,” Iske explained. “But a lot of what we’re doing is learning and teaching. We’ve gone back to straight fundamentals and that’s really helped with the time we do have.”
As things move closer to the scheduled Aug. 3 start of fall practice, Iske remains measured but stays buoyant that a 2020 season is in the offing.
“It’s about being in good shape when that day arrives. I think our kids have got in better shape since day one. That’s the main thing for us,” said Iske. “We’re about building camaraderie through teamwork. We’ll be better off fundamentally and football wise.”
The Roughnecks will have scrimmages against Canton and West Rusk before kicking off the 2020 regular season Aug. 28 at home against the Harleton Wildcats.