TALLADEGA -- Talladega head football coach Shannon Felder has made the most of his time away from school.
Felder, entering his second season at Talladega, has spent the time working on himself as well as working on a plan for when he is able to get with his players.
“I had a torn meniscus and ACL, so the timing worked out well for me. It gave me time to stay off of it a little bit,” the coach said. “Right now, I am just trying to ice, heat and elevate.
“I have been working on football, meeting with the coaches. We have our Zoom meetings and we talk a little X’s and O’s. Not a whole lot of interaction with the boys, more or less just trying to put a plan together with the coaches.
“Hopefully, when we get the go-ahead, we will hit the ground running.”
Felder was looking forward to having his first offseason with the Tigers after leading Talladega to a 6-5 record and its first-ever trip to the second round of the playoffs last fall.
Talladega went on the road for the opening round and upset Montevallo 20-18 for the first playoff victory in team history.
With spring practice being canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Fielder and his coaching staff are spending time reviewing last season.
“We are going over individual plays and games, seeing what did and didn’t work,” Fielder said. “We are trying to figure out why it didn’t work. We are trying to make sure that everybody understands what we are trying to do.
“We are going to school each other first, and once we have it down, we are going to have our departmental meetings. We will have an offensive meeting and we will have a day for defensive meetings.”
As far as the players, Felder hasn’t had much communication with them since they have been out of school.
Even though Talladega has several players returning from 2019, Fielder is not confident all of his players are working out during this time away from his supervision.
“When they are split like they are now, you may have one or two that are working out,” he said. “You have another 10 to 15 that may be struggling to work out and you probably have some that are not working out at all.
“We certainly have to fix that problem. We have a Zoom workout for the boys, but at this point, you feel like you are in less control than you would like.
“I think players feel it is fair from that standpoint. Hopefully, we will be able to pick it up more and more as time progresses.”
Last week, the AHSAA announced coaches have an option to have spring football or start a week early before fall practice. Felder said having spring allows the team a chance to accomplish a lot before going into summer workouts.
“Every spring, you are trying to fill those holes,” Felder said. “You’ve got (graduating senior) YD (Montgomery), he was our best defensive guy, so we have some holes to fill with him as a defensive leader.
“We are losing some guys off the offensive line that were good contributors. You have to fill those holes. Then you have (graduating senior) D’Corian (Wilson), who was the most versatile player. He played cornerback, safety, outside linebacker; he could play so many positions. You have to find that utility guy that is going to replace D’Corian. The spring for us was about filling those holes.”
The Tigers were also planning on using the time to prepare for the move back up to Class 5A.
“I felt like some games we got pushed around a bit,” Felder said. “One of my goals is to be bigger and stronger. Of course, that has been hindered by this (COVID-19 pandemic) since we can’t get in the weight room and work like we need to.
“We are relying on players to do weighted work at home. You can’t get stronger if you don’t have weights, but players can try to maintain by doing pushups and sit-ups.
“It makes it tough for us because we have to get bigger and stronger. Playing 5A, they are going to be a little bit faster, bigger and have more depth.”