Friday night lights postponed

Nic Fox, Staff Writer

The restrictions due to the coronavirus have brought up many changes in the community. Changes in social gatherings, school attendance, and for sports fans, the Crimson football season. The Illinois High School Association announced in July that fall football, volleyball and boys’ soccer will be moved to the spring of 2021. The move was due to Gov. JB Pritzker’s guidelines on rating sports by risk. Football was rated high on the risk scale. As of now, football season will start February 15 and run through May 1. The postponement wasn’t a surprise to Coach Mark Grounds.

“I told the kids right from the start of summer that my opinion was that things were going to get moved to spring,” Coach Grounds said. He made sure the team was preparing for fall while expecting football to be moved to the spring. “So, when it got moved to the spring, our boys didn’t miss a beat because every day we mentioned that to them,” Grounds said. 

Sophomore player Eric Green was asked how the postponement has affected his training. “It hasn’t really affected our training. We practice hard every time,” Green said.

Senior Drew Ezard said the pandemic actually helped him. “I’ve been able to get my body right and train for the three sports I have coming up,” Ezard said. During quarantine, Ezard worked out a lot to stay in shape. He focused on speed training and gaining muscle. The players are training hard, but it is different this year. They are still not allowed to have contact, so tackling is off limits except for the bag and tackle rack. 

“When they let us play, they will have to allow us contact. We are training as close to real as we possibly can, but we can’t get to practicing real football until they limit some of the social distancing requirements,” Grounds said. 

The team has been allowed only two days of practice per week in September and will be allowed three days a week in October. They are only allowed 20 practices with restrictions before the season starts, but the coaches are taking film and putting together training videos for the players. 

Coach Grounds got a bit emotional when he said, “I think when everything got shut down and isolated, those two hours of practice have been the closest thing to normal for a lot of us, so it’s been very enjoyable.” 

Signing day hasn’t been changed yet by the National College Athletic Association so players might not be signed until after their senior season. Although Drew Ezard loves competing in football and basketball, baseball has his heart. He says recruitment is different this year because Division 1 and Division 2 colleges can’t attend games to scout athletes. 

“The pandemic has affected my college choice because not playing baseball last year was a setback for me, but everything happens for a reason,” Ezard said. 

The Crimson teams have been lucky to have such devoted coaches. Coach Grounds has personally sent a lot of film from players’ junior year and has had many conversations with college coaches. “Everybody is in a wait and see, but we’ve been trying to bombard everyone we know about our kids,” Grounds said. 

When asked about the scholarship opportunities,  Grounds replied that there are scholarship caliber players across all JHS sports, but it might take a bit longer in the process to find them. 

So what are the games going to be like for the fans this year? The games will be played mostly in the cold, so there may be fewer fans attending along with  social distancing requirements limiting the number of fans even allowed in. Spring is also a very wet season where the top three inches of the field have a good chance of being mud. 

“I hope it doesn’t happen, but I think our practice field and our playing field will get destroyed,” Grounds predicted. Luckily, our players are used to playing in cold and wet weather, so Coach Grounds doesn’t intend to let them use that as an excuse not to get things done.

 Eric Green summed it up for all the players when he said, “It’s not going to make a difference to us because we all just want to play for our team and our school.”