DORA — Dora head coach Bart Lockhart can’t help notice a greater sense of unity and team spirit since his squad began preseason practice.
An injury-plagued 2019 season that ended with a 2-8 finish has led to a team eager to prove they are much better than the overall results showed. Further adding into the positive feelings is the Bulldogs move from Class 5A to 4A, where team numbers and a more beneficial schedule awaits.
Above all of the hopes for the upcoming season and commitment to becoming a better team lies a much simpler reason for the joy seen at the practice — after a three-month absence due to the COVID-19 lockdown, the members of the Dora football program are happy to be back in the weightroom and on the field with each other once again.
With each member of the program adhering to the AHSAA-mandated social distancing and facial covering guidelines, Lockhart expressed his joy on the morale felt through the team.
“Everyone — coaches and players — are so happy to be back. We’ve missed everybody — with three months off we all were ready to get back and get back to work,” Lockhart said.
“We had a great offseason going until the lockdown took place in March, but I’m really pleased that the guys have picked up where we left off and with more enthusiasm. They’re ready to get out here and work and get better. They’ve got a fire in their belly and we’re excited to see it.”
The adaptation to the changes required to combat the COVID-19 by the AHSAA has gone well, Lockhart said, also stating that some of the routines have had beneficial outcomes.
“To help make sure everyone is distanced properly we’ve gone to having two sessions in the morning, which helps keep numbers down. It’s also gave us some very valuable individual coaching time, where larger groups often loses the one-on-one player interaction,” Lockhart said. “This may be something we continue from now on because the small group work has been really good for everyone.”
The players themselves have also notice the high morale after the long lockdown and change to a new classification.
“I think we’ve got a lot more fire this year after going 2-8 last season — no one was happy with that,” junior Jayden McDavid said. “I feel everyone feels committed to do much better this year, and with us moving to Class 4A, it gives us a chance to show how good of a team we are.”
“We’re getting back in shape and everyone is in a really good mood for it,” senior Jesse Miller said. “We’ll be ready to show that the 2020 Dora Bulldogs are a different team.”