Casa Grande Union vs. Vista Grande

Casa Grande Union receiver RJ Keeton stiff-arms Vista Grande defender Jaevin Heath during a game on Oct. 4, 2019 at Vista Grande High School. Both schools received the okay this week to begin offseason workouts starting on Monday.

CASA GRANDE — Casa Grande high school football teams will finally hit the field to begin offseason workouts Monday.

Vista Grande coach Chris Semore said coaches had a meeting Tuesday and were given approval to begin workouts.

“Dr. (Steve) Bebee, he looked at all the information that he has and he realizes the importance, especially for football,” Semore said of the Casa Grande Union High School District superintendent ’s decision. “The importance of heat accumulation and that time is a factor for us. The schedule hasn’t changed. It’s still Aug. 21, Week 1, and he realizes the importance of us being able to start and get our kids accumulated and safely prepare for the season.

“He looked at all the information. He looked at the plans that we put in place as a school, and he felt comfortable for us to start.”

PinalCentral sent an email to Bebee on Friday afternoon but received an auto reply about school offices being closed from June 5 through June 22.

CG Union coach Jake Barro confirmed the beginning of workouts Monday and when asked about the automatic reply, he said the schools are looking to slowly reopen the offices Monday.

“I think our school district and I’ve had the chance to meet with them and talk to them and Dr. Bebee. I think he did a great job in wanting to make sure that all the precautions were in place and safe,” Barro said. “Keeping our kids safe is our first priority, and we didn’t feel like June 1 was good enough. So we took the precautions.

“I applaud Dr. Bebee for that. I really do think it was the right decision looking back. I’m not too worried about that. I think we can get caught up in time. We will be just fine.”

A majority of Pinal County schools began to welcome back athletes back to campus for offseason workouts earlier this month.

Barro had originally sent out a Facebook message to parents and players saying workouts would begin June 3, and Semore said workouts would begin for Vista Grande the following Monday on June 8.

However, Bebee quickly said no to that. He stated in an email to PinalCentral on June 3: “In my conversation with my board last night (June 2), we have decided not to start fall sports or begin the (Arizona Interscholastic Association’s) guidelines until Gov. Ducey announces that we are officially in Phase 2 of the federal reopening guidelines. Once that happens, we will begin to follow the AIA’s guidelines.”

“I’ll take the blame for that,” Barro said of jumping the gun and saying they would have practice without contacting Bebee. “It was a breakdown in communication somewhere. I’m going to take the blame on that as the head football coach. I was told one thing, and I got the word out to my parents and players. I’m not going to blame anybody else.

“I should have done some more background with everybody at the district level. But now I can say confidently that we are all on the same page and ready to go.”

Last month, the AIA issued a set of recommended guidelines for schools as they begin to reopen and allow athletes back on campus to train.

Part of those guidelines include limiting the amount of people in the weight room and limiting the number of people in groups on the field during practice. The AIA added three Phases, with Phase 3 being the resumption of full practices.

Barro and Semore said their teams will be working mostly on conditioning drills starting Monday. Both agree their teams will be a little behind compared to other teams that started workouts three weeks ago.

“We realized that we are behind the 8-ball in that aspect,” Semore said. “Which has caused us to adjust football-wise so when we do start to do football stuff, we are hitting the ground running. We are just trying to simplify and keep things simple for our kids so they don’t have to learn a bunch of stuff in a short amount of time.”

As cases of COVID-19 continue to increase in the state, Semore and Barro are concerned what that could mean for workouts and if the football season will be played at all.

“There’s always that concern,” Barro said. “In my personal opinion, I’m hoping the AIA will push the start date of the season back a little bit. All you have to do is push everything back two weeks. Push football back two weeks into September, and then you push winter and spring sports back two weeks. It wouldn’t affect anything. Everything would work. That would be my recommendation just to give everyone more time to see how things are going.”