SYLACAUGA -- Sylacauga head football coach Andrew Zow will finally get a chance to be able to be around his team.
Zow was hired as the Aggies new head coach March 9, just a few days before the AHSAA postponed and eventually canceled sports for the rest of the school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
State Superintendent Dr. Eric Mackey on Tuesday released a timeline of when students could return to campuses. According to the new timeline, Mackey hopes to allow students 13 years and older to have athletic practices in groups of 10 or less on campus starting June 8.
“I have mixed feelings. As a team, you want everyone to be there and build the team comradery that we need,” Zow said. “I would rather have all of my guys there … We are going to come up with two or three (scenarios for players returning for workouts) just in case the administration says that (one scenario in particular) is not going to work. We are going to make sure we cover all the guidelines and cross our ‘T’s’ and dot our ‘I’s’ on everything.
“I am excited about the opportunity to get started, but as coaches, we are going to make sure we do everything to protect players and ourselves. We are going to follow all of the guidelines that are out there.”
It’s unknown right now what requirements will have to be met during the workouts as far as players wearing masks and gloves, but Zow has a plan for keeping his players safe.
“We are going to be careful,” Zow said. “My plan is to … be outside, not confined to a weight room. That’s what we need right now, we need the kids to be active, getting in shape and stronger.
“Some of the things I have planned is the guys doing a lot of dumbbell type stuff, still squats, push-ups and all the things we can do to get them stronger. We are going to have groups.
“It is going to be hectic the first week with everyone trying to understand what group they are in and when their time slot is.”
Other than the meeting he had with players after his introductory press conference, Zow has not had much contact with them. The former Alabama quarterback said he is still trying to figure out who is going to play football next season.
“It has been a whirlwind; I had a chance to meet one of the players when I was walking through Piggly Wiggly,” Zow said. “I haven’t had a chance to sit down and have a conversation with them and let them know the game plan that we are heading towards.
“Not that it is not frustration, but I let God work and I follow suit. I am excited about it, but it is unprecedented times. I am going to do what I can and lead the best way I can under these circumstances. I feel we can get it done once we have a plan from the administration.”
“Last season, I did the same thing at Bessemer. We only had a month or so to get ready for the season. I had to meet the team, develop a coaching staff. Here, at least, I have a little bit more time to develop a coaching staff.”
Zow was hired late in the 2019 offseason, when he moved from head coach at Calera to head coach at Bessemer.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also prevented Zow from completing his coaching staff. Zow said he plans to have a mixture of returning coaches and coaches he has prior experience with.
“Hopefully, we all jell, and we will,” he said. “I think the guys that are there are very committed and love Sylacauga. The guys we are bringing will be committed to the program as well.”
Zow has learned a lot about Sylacauga, but one of the most important things he has discovered in his short time in the community is there is a Blue Bell ice cream factory not too far from the high school.
“I took a picture of it and everything,” he said. “I told my wife and son that we had Blue Bell up the road. I am excited about that. It is like my hometown -- it is small enough to be a great place to raise your family, and they love football. That is how my hometown was that my wife and I grew up in. We are excited about that. The people that I have met so far have shown their support, and they have been great. I am excited about it, and, hopefully, we can build a great relationship.”