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Students in Fairfax County return to the football field for the first time since November 2019

The W.T. Woodson Football Coach talks about the upcoming season and returning to the football field for the first time in more than a year.

FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. — The NFL season might be wrapping up but high school football is kicking off in Fairfax County.

Many sports are back in practice across Fairfax County. Students returned to the field this week to start practice ahead of their condensed season.

Head Varsity Football Coach Jared Van Acker said being back on the football field has been a little bit of normalcy during a highly unusual year.

“At the end of the day, our kids realized the opportunity that was in front of them. They are getting back out on the field and they relish in it," said Van Acker. "This was one of my best practices ever as the head football coach."

The team has been doing regular workouts since June but in mid-February, they returned to practice full-time to prepare for the upcoming 2021 Spring Season.

“This is a first for everybody all across the state. It’s a unique situation but we’ve got to control what we can control and have fun and give the opportunity for these kids, especially the seniors, to have a fun and exciting experience,” said Van Acker.

Practices this year look very different with some of the new safety protocols in place. There are sign-in procedures and players work out in pods so they can continue to social distance. Students and coaches also wear masks during practice.

To kick off the 2021 Spring Football Season, the team plays Annandale High School on Feb. 22. There are six regular-season games before teams are eligible to advance to the playoffs.

Other sports including field hockey and volleyball are in the middle of practice as Monday for their upcoming season. The Woodson basketball team is currently in the middle of the playoffs.

“We’re just thankful we can get back out on the football field and play the game,” said Van Acker.

W.T. Woodson has their own connection to one of the coaches who played in the Super Bowl.

Andy Heck had a big high school career at Woodson before going onto the NFL where he has been the offensive line coach for the Kansas City Chiefs.

Andy Heck has made several trips back to W.T. Woodson throughout the years. Every year, the school gives out an Andy Heck scholarship.

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