By Ronn Rowland
Phoenix Sports Writer
For most of the area high school football teams, summer is a time for conditioning and organized team activities.
For Sequoyah High School, it’s just coming into the weight room and working out then heading home for the rest of the day.
“We’re allowed to have summer workouts, Summer Pride, what ever people call theirs, the strength and conditioning part,” said Sequoyah coach Shane Richardson. “But no 7-on-7s, no team camps, no camps of our own or anything like that. We have our workout sessions in the mornings for an hour and one-half, four days a week.
“When our 1 1/2-hour conditioning session is done, we’re done – we send them home. And it’s not mandatory. We’re providing a place to work out and we invite everybody, not just football. We’re inviting girls, boys…whatever sport at Sequoyah.”
The Indians can officially begin practice in August when the other programs get fall practice started. That’s because of the decision the Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities Association handed down last fall.
“I think the date is Aug. 12 this year,” Richardson said. “We can start preseason practices without pads. We’ll have four days of non-padded practice and then on that first Friday we can go to pads. Once we get started with that, we’re not on any sanctions as far as practice goes.
“We don’t have the preseason scrimmages that others schools have. We’ve got to do intrasquad scrimmages to try to make up for not having another opponent scrimmage.”
On Oct. 22, the OSSAA ruled 12 Sequoyah football players ineligible for violations of illegal activity at individual summer camps. According to the OSSAA, the Indians violated the summer camp rule (OSSAA Rule 10-D-2c) which states that athletes are not allowed to participate in individual camps where players’ expenses are paid for by the “ school, by school personnel or by any booster group or organization associated with the school, or by any non-family member.”
Because of the decision, the football team was forced to vacate its nine regular-season victories while missing out on the Class 3A playoffs.
In November, the OSSAA voted unanimously to reinstate the athletic eligibility of 11 of the athletes, allowing them to participate in other sports during the 2012-2013 school year, including basketball, baseball and track.
The team was able to practice some during spring drills but on a limited basis. The players could not put on pads and could practice only during the hour of school allotted.
“The sanctions date back to spring football,” Richardson said. “We were not allowed to do the traditional spring football. We could have our athletic period during the school day. We could go out in shorts and t-shirts without wearing football equipment. As long as we ended it when the school day was over. We couldn’t carry that on once the last day of school was over.”
During the summer, the football team can work out in the mornings. The players get together and practice on their own but Richardson and the coaches are keeping coaches away.
“We had discussions with the OSSAA before spring practice started for the state just to outline some of the things we wanted to do,” he said. “Things like checking out a couple of footballs for quarterbacks and kickers. But coaches can’t be involved.
“As coaches, we want to make sure we’re 100 percent compliant. We don’t encourage them to go out on their own and if they do, they do.”
And based on what Richardson has seen, the team is chomping at the bit to play football and put last season in the rear-view mirror.
“Obviously this is something that will come up when you talk about Sequoyah football, it’s a major topic,” he said. “The football games are the biggest thing on our minds and not answering questions about sanctions. The kids are just anxious to move on, to get playing, to be around the team again.
“We’re positive about it and looking forward to the season just like everybody else. Maybe even more so a little bit so we can move on to the next phase of our program and get 2012 behind us.”