Ashland High football team on the road to recovery

Ashland High head football coach Charlie Hall said the Grizzlies' "core starters" attended a practice on Saturday and expressed optimism that his team is on the road to recovery after a flu outbreak last week forced Ashland to forfeit a game against Crater.

According to Hall, 28 varsity players showed up for drills Saturday, up from 35 combined freshman and varsity players who attended Friday's practice and 18, including eight freshmen, who practiced Wednesday.

"I think we're good," Hall said as players trickled onto the field for practice Monday. "We're getting guys back. I think they're a little bit (out of shape) after not playing for about 10 days. But we had a good turnout Saturday. Every day we get more kids back, and every day some kid might come up one day but then is too weak and can't come back the next day. But the core of our starters showed up on Saturday and so that was good."

Ashland, which fell to 2-5 overall and 0-1 in the Southern Sky Conference with the forfeit, travels to face Mazama (2-3, 0-2) on Friday. It's a big game for both teams as they fight to gain one of three SSC playoff berths.

Hall said the Grizzlies were finally able to make some headway on Saturday, but will still have to overcome multiple obstacles in order to beat the Vikings, who are coming off a 28-20 loss to Eagle Point.

"We were able to kind of start putting in the pieces of a game plan for Mazama, having watched them play Friday night, so we've got a little bit of an idea of what to expect from them," he said. "It's kind of like a bye, but it's not really because you don't get the value of really having your team intact and gaining some extra practice time or some things that you want to do. Really, we just sort of took a week off and are trying to put it back together."

Symptoms of the flu affected some Grizzlies more than others. Hall said that he was particularly worried about senior receiver/defensive back Oliver Krant, junior lineman Sam Cowan and senior defensive back Clinton Murphy. Cowan and Murphy returned to practice Saturday and Krant, who Hall said checked into the hospital Thursday and was released Saturday, is also improving.

While being healthy enough to practice is a long way from being good enough to win a league game, Hall is trying to stay positive as the Grizzlies prepare for the stretch run.

"Maybe it'll work in our favor," he said. "Maybe for some kids the rest might be a good thing. They'll be sort of rejuvenated and we can finish strong with the last three games."

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