Socially distanced practice kicks off Fall II football season

Feb 23, 2021

The calendar says it’s winter, but those driving past Memorial Stadium this Tuesday would be forgiven for thinking it’s the fall after seeing a typical autumn sight: Dartmouth High’s football players back on the gridiron.

On Feb. 23, the Indians returned to the field as part of their first team practice of the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association’s new Fall II season — the first time the team has gathered since the Fall of 2019.

“This is the start of the season,” Athletic Director Andrew Crisafulli said. “We’ve got a great group this year.” 

The MIAA’s Board of Directors in August voted to delay high-risk sports for Covid transmission like football to a “Fall II” season that officially began on Feb. 22. Practices were allowed to be held during the first Fall season, but those focused more on individualized training and conditioning.

As part of the first team practice, the Indians used the time to get back into football shape — with players working on offensive and defensive positioning, along with how to keep their distance on the sidelines.

“We had meetings all month to get out here,” Head Coach Rick White said. “Everybody knows what their expectations are and knows what their responsibilities are.”

Under the MIAA’s new rules, huddles are permitted, but players must maintain their distance and all face in one direction. Instead, the MIAA recommends teams use hand signals or signs for play calling — something White said he and his staff are already well prepared for.

“Once you get out and start playing football, it’s football,” the coach said. “Whatever the rules are, we work toward the rules.”

The season is scheduled to kick off Mar. 12 as the Indians host New Bedford at Memorial Stadium.