Knapp looking to keep Wolverines focused

DOVER — Chip Knapp liked a lot of what he was seeing.

It may have only been spring football practice for his Wesley College football players.

But the Wolverines had a lot of energy when they took the field for their first two sessions.

“We started our preparing for business as usual,” said Knapp, Wesley’s veteran coach. “And then slowly things changed to a point where most everyone has left school. We’re trying to figure out what to do next.”

What happened, of course, is that Wesley — like just about every college in the country — shut down to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.

That mean that spring football practice was stopped, too.

While college spring sports were canceled as well, the situation is a little different in football. Football teams across the country are planning for their actual season to begin in August.

But with no timetable for a return to practice and most of their players back home, coaches just don’t know how to keep preparing.

“There’s no road map to figure out what to do,” said Knapp.

Knapp said the first thing he’s focusing on is making sure his players remain focused on their grades.

With students away from school and taking classes on the internet, Knapp knows it’s going to be easy for them to get distracted. The players won’t have the motivation that comes from being around their teammates and coaches.

The last thing Knapp wants his players to think is that they’re just on an extended spring break.

“Football is a secondary thing right now as opposed to their safety and their academic progress,” said Knapp. “Those are the two main things. Some people may look at this as a break. But they’re still responsible for their school.”

Knapp said it’s more than just about grades, though. The Wolverines will be missing out on a good deal of team bonding while they’re on their own.

“Now everyone is scattered and communication is a lot tougher,” said Knapp. “It just kind of disrupts everything and it’s still a fluid situation.

“We’ve got to remind them that they’re on a team and we’ve got a season coming up. We’ve got to be prepared. That feeling of being on a team can kind of dissipate when they’re not together.”

In the internet age, Wesley’s players can still study game film on their computers and stay in shape on their own. The coaches will work on making the playbook and other presentations better and get done what they can get done.

Knapp also has a number of coaching candidates to sort through a he looks to replace long-time offensive assistant Steve Azzanesi, who is now the offensive coordinator at Delaware State

Of course, in a sport as competitive as college football, every coach will be trying to find a way to get through the shutdown more prepared for the season than everyone else.

“That’s the challenge,” said Knapp. “You’re kind of dealing with what’s the most important thing right now. So, first of all, making sure everyone’s safe and then keeping our team together. Football is kind of like the third thing.

“We have a little bit more time on our hands than the day-to-day operations that we usually do. We’ll be breaking down film and sending out ways to keep them involved in the X’s and O’s when it’s appropriate.”