LAKE COUNTY, Fla. – Public schools haven’t hit the field yet, but many private schools like Mount Dora Christian Academy have already started the football season. In its second home game, the Mount Dora Bulldogs will be hosting its senior night.
“We’re going to push ahead our senior night just to make sure these kids get celebrated in case something happens and the season is cut short,” said Athletic Director Megan Ziegelhofer.
Offensive Tackle, Austin Drinkwater played in the first game, recalling the moment the team was called onto the field for the first time this season.
“It felt good, I liked running through the banner again. I liked seeing the jumbotron on again... it felt amazing,” Drinkwater said.
As a senior, Drinkwater said being on the field can have a huge impact on his future.
“I know a lot of people aren’t playing games right now, so us playing is a jump start as far as recruiting goes,” Drinkwater said.
As part of their new gameday protocol, Mount Dora Christian Academy’s Athletic Director said they formed a pod with seven other private schools throughout Central Florida, called the Pac-8.
“We developed a protocol system that’s consistent across the board. When we travel to their school, or when they travel to ours everything looks the same. We worked hard to make sure these kids had an opportunity to play and compete this year,” said Ziegelhofer. “And the kids want to play really bad... they’re following all the rules.”
The players' benches have been removed from the stadium. Each player has assigned seats that are spaced apart on the sidelines. When they are not in play, players must wear a face covering. They also have designated water stations to keep the players from forming groups off the field.
“As far as benches being gone, everyone has their own seat, so we’re distanced. When we’re not playing, we have to pull up our neck gaiter. I feel safe, completely,” Drinkwater said.
Temperature checks are taken for everyone, including spectators before entering the stadium. Anyone with a temperature over 100 will be denied entry. Fans will be seated on every other row in the stands and each group is asked to space out.
“We are taking advantage of the outdoor space. If you come and want to bring a lawn chair you can sit anywhere in the grass area surrounding the stadium,” said Ziegelhofer.
Signs are posted just about everywhere, promoting social distancing, and required face coverings. The capacity cut to 50% for games, and tickets are only sold online.
“We’re doing temperature checks for every person that comes into the facility. They get their ticket scanned, temperature scanned, we make sure they have a mask, and they’re allowed to come in,” said Ziegelhofer.
There’s also been a change to the concession stand.
“We’re usually out there cooking up cheeseburgers and cooking fries, but according to the new guidelines we can only sell pre-packaged food, so we partnered with Chick-fil-A, who’s providing sandwiches that we sell,” Ziegelhofer said.
Senior night will take place Friday, Sept. 11. Gates open at 6:30 p.m. with kickoff at 7 p.m. You can purchase tickets by clicking here.