What will the return of football look like under COVID regulations? Former Wenatchee QB Camden Sirmon offers a glimpse

Former Wenatchee quarterback and first team all-Big 9 pick Camden Sirmon made waves when he announced a move to Missoula, Mont. in hopes that fall film will elevate himself to a Division I-level recruit.

Sirmon joined the SBLive Washington podcast this week to discuss the process of moving, what football practice in a state with more loose COVID restrictions is like and whether or not he would try to move back to Wenatchee for the spring football season in Washington.

Sentinel High School (Mont.) has already gone through a week of padded practice. Its first game is on Aug. 28.

The move came after the WIAA announced it is moving the football season to a February start as a part of a 2020-21 high school athletic calendar revised to adhere to COVID-19 guidelines.

Here is a transcript of the interview, broken out by topic. Answers have been lightly edited for clarity. Listen to the full interview here:

On the backstory behind his move and transfer:

Sirmon: “The whole process started in May, I believe. We kind of made the initial contact, my brother played for the Montana Grizzlies. So he was here. And he had worked with the Sentinel High School track coach for his pro day stuff, and got in contact with him and said, ‘my brother is interested in transferring because there’s been some rumors about Washington, you know, probably not having a season.’ So we kind of made the initial contact in May and then there in June, sometime it kind of got a little bit better, things (the spread of the virus) were looking hopeful. So we kind of stopped contacting and then somewhere around the beginning of July I started contacting again. 

So that’s when we kind of officially started the process of, ‘OK, I’m going to go over there.’ Believe I left just before the fourth of July to meet the guys. The ultimate deal-breaker was, we were running out of time. I have to go learn an offense (in Missoula), build relationships here, earn the respect of my teammates here and then on top of that, win a starting job. That’s kind of a non-negotiable, it has to happen. So there was this fine line of when does it get too late? And so that was a thing we had discussed internally as a family. We eventually got too close to that boundary, so we had to move. And from what we had heard, Montana was planning on going (forward with a fall football season).”

On the impact of the loss of spring, summer and where he’s at in the recruiting process:

Sirmon: “The camps were massive. My whole dream is Division I. Playing the Big Sky would be awesome. And I’ve heard from a couple of them that they wanted to see me and, you know, that was a big deal was camps. Then obviously anything evaluation-wise from back in April, when they could have come through the high school camps, all that got shut down with all the dead periods. So that shifted all the importance to the fall season. And they said that before Washington even thought about moving (football) into the spring. Then obviously, with the signing days as well, they’re not moving. So there’s kind of a, ‘what do I do now?’ I there’s so much uncertainty. I want to be in a position where at least I can control a little bit. So we when we moved to Montana, that allowed me to have the fall season and that’s going to be very important. I hope to have a pretty stellar season, win a state championship here and prove to the people that have any doubts that I’m your guy, that’d be the ultimate goal. Right now I’m a bubble kid. They’re kind of just waiting on me. Maybe somebody makes a move, and then that opens the floodgates, I don’t know. But this kind of waiting.”

On the importance of fall film:

Sirmon: “Well, I heard it just directly from the source. It was straight from from a couple of Big Sky coaches. It was originally those camps and then with those gone, it was all leaned onto the fall. And then obviously, we don’t have a football season in Washington, so I had to go to place that does have a fall. And that was here. I have to say that’s pretty accurate, so I’m glad I’m here.”

On eligibility, logistics of moving:

Sirmon: “It’s been really tough. Originally, it was just one parent had to come. And I think Montana’s board have, you know, where however they decide this eligibility board or however, they decided okay, now we have to change That, and now your whole family unit has to come. So they kind of got more strict because I think they force they foresaw, you know, people coming. So now my whole family has to move over here and have an address in the Central School District to have to be there. Because if I moved into like the other two high schools or big sky, and hellgate, so if I moved in either one of those, I would have had to sit out 90 days, so I had to move into, you know, their school boundaries. That was one of the rules, and then my whole family unit came. But logistically, it was tough. I mean, just like anything, but I was fortunate enough to have to have my siblings be invisible already. So I could kind of make that that bridge to a Missoula without my parents. My parents stayed back for a little bit. They had to route some stuff up and my mom had to figure out what she was going to do with her job. Thankfully, her companies are allowing her to kind of, they’re going to go back forth a little, I think, if they’re needed to, but she’s able to kind of work remotely, I believe. So that’ll be Nice. So logistics is hard. But again, I’m the youngest child and my other two siblings are, are here. So my parents being super supportive of my situation, and they want me to fulfill my goal and dream. So they were more than happy to make this work somehow. And I was very thankful for that. I know a lot of kids can’t. One of my buddy’s was, was pretty worried about it as well. And he was gonna maybe try and do it. He committed Air Force JJ, he committed Air Force. So he’s he’s pretty set that way. But he was thinking about doing it, but his family just couldn’t. He’s the oldest and they work for the school district. And and, you know, that would be that would be a life changing move. So I’m really happy and fortunate for the opportunity to be able to do this and not everybody can, which is, like I said, I’m fortunate.”

On what football practice looks like under COVID-19 guidelines:

Sirmon: “It’s interesting. We have our team, our group and our pods. And what that means is we have our team, varsity, and JV. There’s no intersection between the two, which would usually you’d have varsity (offense), JV (defense) for scout stuff, but that can’t happen. So our varsity sideline is on one side and the JV sideline on the other. And you have your varsity (offense), and then you have your best available defense. And you kind of have to work with within your varsity team only. Groups are your offensive defense. So if you’re in your offense, you’re in your offensive group and your defense is your defensive group. And then you have pods. So when we’re all standing on the sideline, we have to be in groups. So our position group specifically so receivers are together, offensive linemen are together. quarterbacks and running backs are together. And we all have to be spread out. But as long as we’re under like, I think a group of 10 or something like that, we’re fine that way. 

The whole reason they do that is the contact tracing stuff. So they say well, ‘John got sick with COVID, here’s the (pod) he’s always on. There’s no way He contacted a JV player.’ And then they quarantine that group instead of the entire team.

It’s actually not too different, really. You’d be surprised if you were to film a practice last year and a practice this year, you probably wouldn’t see a lot of difference right away. Obviously, there’s hand sanitizer on the water station and stuff like that. But that’s another thing, when we go to water we all have to sanitize and stuff, but there’s not a whole lot of difference because you’re all kind of talking and stuff. The only difference, I would say, it’d be six feet apart, you’re kind of always a little bit further apart. But I think a lot of times in practice people like to be further away anyway because they like to be in their own space a little bit on the sideline.”

On a potential return to Wenatchee for the spring football season:

Sirmon: “I’ve actually kind of thought about this quite a bit. I’ve heard that I can’t, and because if the athletic director deems it was only for sports or something like that, they can they can sit me out. The WIAA has talked about it a little bit. I saw an interview with my name in it, and they were talking about it, but the whole thing is if I have an address there and my family’s paying bills there, and my whole family moves back — meaning my mom or dad and me — I’m eligible to play. I think that’s the rule. I think I am eligible to come back. Now that decision will be made down the road.

I’d be open to it. As of now, I’m not planning on it. I just started life here. I’m not really going to think about that or make any decisions, but I wouldn’t be against it. It kind of just depends on how a couple things roll. I’d like to ultimately sig in December. I’d love to be in that situation. But if I’m not, we’ll see when that comes.”

Statewide High School Sports Reporter at SBLive | andy@scorebooklive.com

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