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LaGuardia, McClay say a late soccer restart is doable

DOUGLAS FRITZ • Mar 27, 2020 at 8:30 AM

All spring sports coaches will have their own set of challenges if the high school season is able to resume in late April.

But soccer coaches would likely face the most daunting task, as that sport relies on continuous choreographed teamwork more than spring cousins baseball, softball, track and tennis.

With Tennessee schools closed through April 24, there is a still a window of opportunity for a brief regular season. But how difficult would it be to restart the soccer season a couple of weeks before postseason play?

TOM LaGUARDIA

Quickly getting in soccer shape — from a tactical standpoint along with a physical one — might come easier for some teams as opposed to others.

“We have stayed in touch with our team,” said LaGuardia, who is Dobyns-Bennett’s head coach. “We communicate on a daily basis with options for them, whether it’s challenging them to help their family around the house or a video for them to watch.

“We have asked the kids to maintain the physical side with their fitness, and we encourage them to touch a ball if they can. And we are sending them things tactically. We want them to be creative and be united. There is opportunity inside of adversity.”

If the games resume, LaGuardia said the real challenge for soccer is flow.

“How do we have cohesiveness and timing?” he said. “It’s like in football where the quarterbacks and receivers spend time in the summer working on routes and timing. And when the defensive and offensive lines are added in, the (skill players) already have their timing.

“As for our tactical approach, we would be very simple.”

For postseason play, LaGuardia said there are many layers to how it could work.

“Would they push back the tournaments and give us longer to prepare?” he said. “Or would the only option be one week and go into the playoffs?”

LaGuardia’s team is in a unique position as the only team in Northeast Tennessee with a league win. In fact, the Indians have two with decisions over David Crockett and Tennessee High. LaGuardia said he wouldn’t want those games to be ignored.

“It would be hard for me to say nothing we’ve done is counted,” LaGuardia said.

Regardless of what is to come, LaGuardia said he is very thankful the TSSAA has kept the door open.

“I can’t thank the TSSAA, our administration, and the governor enough,” said LaGuardia. “They have allowed our players to have hope, where some states have already shut it down. We are so grateful they have waited to see if we can play.”

BILL McCLAY

The Elizabethton head coach said he believes it is doable.

“I would hope so,” he said. “I think most coaches would hope that about their teams. The players would come in and understand the stress of it.

“But we would have to see what April 24 means. Could we practice April 25? If so, I could have a team raring and ready to go.”

The Cyclones would benefit, McClay said, from the players’ attitudes before the season was stopped.

“Not every year is the same,” he said. “I thought this year the enthusiasm for my guys was way up. You could see it in the preseason with the amount of work they put in across the board.

“I left them with this when I texted them after the last game: ‘We don’t know how long this will last. You guys put in too much work to let these weeks destroy your fitness. Try the best you can to maintain it.’ I hope the kids are doing as much as they can.”

McClay said he doesn’t know how the postseason would work if there isn’t some form of a completed conference schedule.

“I thought about it earlier today,” he said. “Would we have one conference game for everybody? I suppose it’s possible.”

One thing that could come out of a disjointed postseason is a true Cinderella story for some fortunate team.

“It would be nice to have a story like that, especially if it is your own,” said McClay.

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