There is a chill in the air and in the state of Alabama that means that football season is at the beginning of the end and it is time for basketball to begin.
For Auburn High School, that means building on a 2019-2020 season that saw the Tigers go 18-11 overall and win the area championship. The Tigers have already opened their season with an 81-34 win over Prattville before falling in a close game to Ramsey.
Looking ahead to this season, head coach Chris Brandt says that for his players the sky is the limit.
“We are a good team but we play well together and when you do that you can do great things,” he said.
As with all sports this year, just making it to the point of being able to play a game has been a challenge, and that has been the case with this Auburn team.
While the Tigers were able to finish their season before the pandemic hit, Brandt was unable to pick his team during his usual tryout period in the spring and didn’t have the chance to work with his players much during the off-season, creating a few challenges the team has had to overcome during fall workouts.
“Probably the biggest thing has just been getting their strength up,” said Brandt. “We wear masks even when we practice, which I think has actually helped us be in better shape.”
Brandt also has a larger roster than usual, with 16 players on hand just in case of Covid removals, a move which has proved to be a good one through the first two games of the season.
“We have 16 guys on the team, with three still playing football right now,” said Brandt. “Then we had three guys out due to Covid and contact tracing, so we had to play our last game with 10 guys, so having a bigger roster is definitely needed this season.”
While the sport itself hasn’t changed, the experience of playing the game has. Players and coaches must wear masks at all times, except when out on the court, and all seating has been spread out in order to accommodate social distancing.
Despite the challenges Covid presents, Brandt has nothing but optimism for his team.
“I have about 12 guys who I feel confident can start for us, and I’m getting 11 seniors back who have all contributed in great ways for our team,” he said.
With the entire starting lineup returning once football season ends and the bulk of the basketball season getting underway, Brandt says that his team is going to do their best to savor each and every game they play.
“You want to play hard every game," he said. "You never know when they’ll shut us down, so you have to go out there and almost have that championship mentality every game. I thought we did that through the first two games, we just need to keep that up the rest of the season.”
The Tigers’ will take to the court tonight at Beauregard before traveling to the Hazel Green tournament next week.
“We are just gonna enjoy each game for as long as we can," said Brandt. "If we are able to play a full season, I feel that we have the talent to go where they want to go."