Next week, Connecticut’s high school football teams will begin their first official activities in nearly two years. But with the elimination of spring football this year, the 2021 preseason will look different than in years past.
Every team in the state will begin their preseason Aug. 12 with three days of OTAs.
Here’s a look at what it means and what’s involved:
What are OTAs?
OTA stands for “organized team activities.” They were implemented this offseason because there is no more spring football option for teams.
OTAs were approved for the 2020 season, but it didn’t happen when the season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The CHSCA made a great proposal and it was very clear what could be done during OTAs and what couldn’t be done,” Gregg Simon, CIAC Associate Executive Director said.
What happened to spring football?
The CIAC removed the spring football option following the 2019 season.
Prior to that decision, the option allowed teams to choose a five-day conditioning week in the spring or the ability to start five days earlier in the summer.
In 2019, 101 teams opted for the five extra days in the fall and 39 teams opted for spring practice. The CIAC cited steadily declining participation in spring practices as a reason for eliminating it statewide.
When do the OTAs start?
The OTAs will begin on Thursday, Aug. 12 and run for three days to Saturday, Aug. 14. Each OTA session is two hours long.
After the teams get Sunday off, a mandatory five-day conditioning week without pads begins Monday, Aug. 16. Upper pads can be worn beginning Saturday, Aug. 21.
Full pad practices begin on Wednesday, Aug. 25 ahead of the Sept. 9-11 Week 1 kickoff.
What can you do at OTAs?
Teams will be allowed to:
- Distribute equipment and fit players for helmets
- Issue lockers
- Go over program rules, locker room behavior, team expectations
- Hand out playbooks
- Video review and chalk talks
- Teach stretching and safety techniques
- “Walk through teaching” in drills, stances, spacing and cadence
- Anything else to prepare the players for conditioning week
What can’t you do at OTAs?
- Use of any equipment (helmets, pads, footballs or simulation of football
- Full speed activities
- Activities such as pass patterns, sled work, etc.
What are coaches looking to get out of the OTAs?
Notre Dame-West Haven coach Joe DeCaprio said with the two-year layoff, the majority of his team has never participated in a varsity practice before.
He said he has three players on his roster who have played in meaningful varsity games and will use the time to observe his players.
“I just want to see if we can line up (correctly) and we will observe some kids in some drills,” he said. “We are going to lift like we normally do.”
Greenwich coach Anthony Morello said he is going to take the time during OTAs to teach his players about the program.
“It’s an opportunity for coaches to meet with the players,” he said. “With this sort of layoff, there are going to be players who don’t know the varsity staff.
“What our expectations are, what the team’s expectations are, what their positional expectations are.”
Morello said that they will also use the time to give out locker assignments, equipment and other paperwork.
Please go to GametimeCT.com High School Sports to read full article.