For sure, this is one of those fish-out-of-water stories.
Including all levels of play as coach and player, Bruce Hanson has been involved in football during the fall season for, he thinks, probably 60 straight years at least. But not this fall, ending that streak.
The longtime Yorktown High School head football coach is being forced to take the autumn campaign off, as all public-school prep sports in Northern Virginia are shut down this fall because of the COVID-19 pandemic. A condensed football season may be held in early spring; if it does, it would mark Hanson’s 35th year as the Patriots’ head coach.
Hanson, who has 269 career victories, with more than 230 at Yorktown, is one of the most senior high-school head coaches in Virginia.
Hanson admits being out of sorts this fall, when his team already would have played three games, after a couple of scrimmages and multiple practices. He has spent his Friday nights doing different things.
“What I miss the most is the whole football week and the regular routine leading up to the Friday-night games,” Hanson told the Sun Gazette. “So it’s not Friday night because the routine isn’t there. You do certain things on the weekends and Sundays after the games. Then certain things again are done on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. It’s just not us – every team has similar routines.”
Overall, Hanson has been coaching high-school football for 48 years. He played the sport in college, high school and youth leagues many years before becoming a coach.
Hanson explained how one of his regular fall routines would be to break down high-school game film of his team and upcoming opponents on Sundays while watching professional football games.
The coach said he badly misses the overall preparation for a season, including the challenge of figuring out which players will play what positions. One of Hanson’s biggest unknowns for the planned early 2021 season will be at quarterback.
“Are you kidding me? That is the exciting part, trying to get it all right,” Hanson said. “Just getting the team ready is fun and exciting. I miss that more than anything, even the Friday nights.”
Yorktown compiled an 11-2 record last season, won the Liberty District championship and finished second in the 6D North Region to the Westfield Bulldogs.
If any kind of season is held during the spring, Hanson believes Yorktown can challenge to repeat as district champions.
“We have some good players back, and I think we can sneak in a good year,” he said.