O'Connell coach and players

Bishop O’Connell High School head football coach Ken Lucas huddles with his players during a timeout in an early season game last season. (Photo by Dave Facinoli)

They certainly would rather be playing games and holding normal practices.

But since the Bishop O’Connell High School football team is not allowed to do either right now because of the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, the young and rebuilding Knights believe they are making the best of the limited workouts permitted, according to second-year head coach Ken Lucas.

The fall high-school sports seasons for Virginia public- and private-school teams have been postponed in theory, at least until the early spring.

O’Connell has been holding outside conditioning workouts for a number of weeks now, broken into two groups, each of which is on site two days a week. There is a group “virtual”-learning session on Mondays.

Just recently, the team was allowed to use a football for limited passing drills only.

For his young squad, Lucas said any workouts, no matter how limited, are worthwhile.

“We are working on flexibility, conditioning and agility, and that has been great for us because we are a young team,” Lucas said. “I can see the difference and I am seeing them enhance their athletic abilities and become better athletes. Better athletes become better football players. So this time has seen positive gains and is good for us in that regard.”

O’Connell finished 2-9 overall last season after a slow start. The Knights were 1-2 in their final three regular-season contests, with the losses coming by one and six points. The win was a victory over Northern Virginia and Washington Catholic Athletic Conference rival Bishop Ireton.

“We made progress last season and are looking forward to making more,” Lucas said.

The players were eager to build on that end to last season. Lucas said. He believes the delay isn’t necessarily an all-bad thing for a young team and a coach in his second season with that squad.

“In some aspects it hurts because we can’t compete,” Lucas said. “But the extended time together allows us to learn our guys more. That’s a help.”

He admits the seniors are the players the most eager to get started, and will be the most disappointed if a season is not held.

“Some seniors who didn’t play a lot last year and are expecting to be bigger contributors and excel this season can be dejected at times,” Lucas said. “They are hoping this season will be their time.”

If a spring football campaign is held, it likely will include only a handful of conference games, with maybe some sort of league playoffs. Practice could start in late February.

“We have to hang in there, be flexible, be positive, be prepared and be patient with them,” Lucas said. “Nothing has been decided yet.”

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