Ponderosa High School football coach Jaron Cohen is anxious about the potential upcoming football season even though he hasn’t been able to have any in-person contact with his players.
Guidelines from the Douglas County School District and the Colorado High School Activities Association prevent any in-person contact between players and coaches for at least the time being.
“We haven’t been able to talk to any of our kids since March 13,” recalled Cohen. “We had some Hudl messages and some Zoom meetings to check on them and give them some tasks they could voluntarily do on their own. They were on a virtual workout schedule. The kids are free to go to personal trainers if they want to, but the main thing Douglas County has said is that no Douglas County coach can be with them.”
The guidelines are necessary but hard to handle, says the Parker school’s coach.
“It does make it a little tougher, but we’ve had a few staff meetings,” added Cohen. `We’ve just said we know we can’t be around the players. When we know we can practice, then we’ll have to hammer out everything, and I’m confident in our staff’s ability to get us ready for that first game, whenever that day might be. We’re staying positive and flexible.
“It’s frustrating, and part of the reason why you coach is that you love the camaraderie of your staff and your players, the teamwork and the community service projects we do in the summer. That’s all kind of been put on hold, but you can only control what you can control.”
So Cohen and the Ponderosa players are playing a waiting game to see when practices might open and games might begin.
“As of now there’s been talk of a season on time,” said Cohen.
“There’s been talk about a delayed season and I know some states are exploring flip-flopping fall and spring sports based on what they decide the risk is. To me, that’s not ideal, but if that’s what we have to do, that’s what we have to do. You kind of feel like the CHSAA was getting hit a little unfairly when spring sports were canceled because this whole thing went from zero to 100 in a week.
“They are working on some alternatives and that took some of my anxiety away. A lot has been put on our senior leaders to stay on their teammates about staying ready. I’m not worried at all about our kids staying ready.”
Pondo has gone 37-10 the past five seasons after Cohen started his Mustangs’ coaching record with a 5-6 record in 2014. Cohen, who has also been the head coach at Liberty and Aurora Hinkley, might have one of his best Ponderosa teams if the 2020 season does commence.
“We return a ton of players that will be three-year starters,” said Cohen. “We’ve been back-to-back league champs and been to the state semifinals and quarters the past two years. Those teams were actually young. When we have a season, we’re bringing back a three-year starter at quarterback, running back, receiver, a couple linemen and linebackers so we should be real tough.
“It’s not like we’ve been a 4-6 team. Now we have a three-year starter at QB (Jack Hanenburg) and we’ve won 18 games the past two years. We’re bringing back 16 starters. Obviously the goal every year is to win league, win state and play to our potential. This year I do feel we have a team that is as talented as we’ve had. There’s room for improvement in the playoffs. We’re excited to get rolling.”
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