The past two weeks have been a roller coaster of emotions for the Gainesville Leopards. A positive coronavirus test on the team forced them to cancel its games against Aubrey and Van Alstyne.
Then, their game against Mineral Wells was canceled, so the Leopards picked up Alvarado to fill this week’s slot and they will finally get back to football at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 25, at Leopard Stadium.
Gainesville head coach James Polk said being away from the team the past two weeks has been tough, but they have navigated it well and still found a way to coach the Leopards.
“We tried to keep in contact with them with Zoom meetings and we had to do the best we can,” Polk said. “I’m not going to sit here and say it wasn’t tough because it was tough to go over the next possible opponent. We can draw on our screens and type notes out, so it’s just different.”
If being away from the team wasn’t difficult enough, the Leopards had been preparing for the past two weeks for Mineral Wells, but with that changing to Alvarado as of a few days ago, the team has had to quickly shift gears.
“We started preparing for Mineral Wells as soon as we knew we weren’t going to play Aubrey and Van Alstyne,” Polk said. “We thought we were going to play Mineral Wells and then have a bye week. Once we got done with the Mineral Wells plan, we started to prepare for Decatur, but then we found out everything we had been working on for two weeks went out the window.”
The Leopards continued to have their schedule change this week as their District 4-4A decided to move their bye week.
Gainesville will now host Springtown next week to allow for a potential makeup slot at the end of the season.
“If a game has to be made up, that will be made up in Week 11,” Polk said. “If it’s two games that have to be made up, we’d go into a every five days plan. Then it would come down to point differential between common opponents. It’s not ideal, but at the end of the day, if everyone else is doing it, there are no excuses. If that’s what it is, that’s what it is. Let’s go.”
Polk said he thinks his team has dealt with the adversity well. They’re locked in and have had a crisp week of practice, he said.
“These kids are veterans at this already and it actually gave us a couple weeks to heal up,” Polk said. “They were fired up and our practices have been sharp and crisp. They were very active in a positive way.”
Alvarado is 1-3 on the season, but Polk said that isn’t indicative of how good the Indians are.
“They get into the I-formation and they’re going to hand off the ball to the running backs and they’re going to roll out and throw the ball a little bit here and there,” Polk said. “They’re very vanilla, but effective.”
The Leopards had been preparing for a run-heavy Aubrey team, but Polk said that preparation won’t transfer over due to the styles of each team’s formation.
Aubrey was rooted in misdirection, while Alvarado is going to pound the football straight ahead.
“Aubrey uses a lot of motion and misdirection, but Alvarado is going to come right at you and here’s what we’re doing,” Polk said. “You have to be stronger, tougher and ready to grind. It’s me against you, face to face. Who’s going to win?”
Reach Patrick Hayslip at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @PatrickHayslip