A fall without football: Local seniors tell us their thoughts
Friday was supposed to be opening night for the 2020 high school football season. But due to COVID-19 restrictions, the IHSA has postponed the season to the spring of 2021.
We asked five local seniors to write their thoughts about not playing football this fall.
Their words follow.
By Braiden Spiech, Glenbard West High School
When we first heard the news that our senior football season was to be played in the winter and spring, many of us at Glenbard West were disappointed and frustrated with the fact that we would have to wait another six months to see competition on the field. We thought it was unfair to postpone something that we had been waiting months, some even years for.
Our perspective was changed quickly though the next day at summer camp: Coach (Chad) Hetlet addressed the team and told us what the delay really meant -- we have the opportunity to be the best team in Glenbard West football history. And he was right. We now have an extra SIX MONTHS to prepare for the season. Yes, our workouts were cut short in the spring and our summer camp was not the same by any means, but I am sure that every single Hitter on this 2020 team put in tremendous effort to make up for those lost hours.
Will we miss playing in the crisp fall Friday nights and Saturday afternoons at Duchon? Of course, but there will be nothing better than exploding out of the gates on that first play in March more prepared than ever. Will we miss the scorching hot early-August practices where we run until we drop? Surprisingly yes, but playing in 40 and 50 degrees in the spring sounds pretty good to me. My point is that so many components of our football season are out of our control, we have no choice but make the best out of every opportunity we are given.
Frankly, we have been dealt a lot of disappointments in the past months, but it does nothing to sulk around and feel bad for ourselves -- we have to work with what we've been given, because if we don't we'll regret it for the rest of our lives. So I think I speak for the team when I say that we are grateful that we were given an offseason extension to get even better for the season. As for the fact that our first game would have been Friday: it is disheartening to think, but it has barely crossed the minds of any of our guys. We all have our eyes locked on February 15th.
Stevenson football player Tristan Moskovic
- Courtesy of Joel Lerner
By Tristan Moskovic, Stevenson High School
Ever since I was a little boy, all I've ever dreamed of was that brisk summer Friday night under the lights. The season opener, standing on the field surrounded by a roaring crowd of peers, feeling on top of the world as a senior in high school.
That was always how I had envisioned it. Every youth football practice, every touchdown I ever scored, every weight I ever lifted, every drop of blood and sweat that came out of my body, it all was supposed to lead up to that moment on Friday night.
I can feel exactly what this Friday would've been like. I would wake up and put my jersey on to go to school. On the way to the school a few of my teammates and I would listen to some of our favorite hype-up songs to get ready for the game, even though it's still 9 hours away. Once we walk in the doors the vibes would be through the roof. We'd walk to the commons where we'd meet up with the rest of our teammate friends and talk about the opponent for the night; the team we'd been preparing for for months. The bell would ring and it'd be time for class, but in the blink of an eye the final bell of the day would ring and it'd be time for football.
That's how it would've been, at least. Instead, this Friday I'll wake up, grab my backpack, and head over to my quarterback's house. Yes, my quarterback's house, but not to play football. I'll be going to my quarterback's house with a few other teammates to sit in a room, socially distanced, and do school individually on our iPads. The vibes certainly will not be through the roof, and the crowd certainly will not be roaring. I don't even get to hear the dreadful morning bell and the beautiful sounding final bell signaling that it's time for football. That's because, well, this Friday there was no football.
COVID-19 has taken things from all of us, some more significant than others. The most important thing it's taken from me, and I think I can speak for my brothers on this one too, is the game of football. The game of football is so much more than a game for so many of us. It has consumed our lives for the better. It has turned the boys we once were into the men we are today, and I'm forever grateful, whether we have a season or not. All we can do at this point is stay optimistic that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Ideally, though, the light will come in the form of spring football, so we can all finish what we've started.
Prospect's Luke Zardzin celebrates his late touchdown against DeKalb in a first round Class 7A playoff football game last season.
- John Starks | Staff Photographer
By Luke Zardzin, Prospect High School
For the first time in 11 years, I am not playing football in the fall.
I remember in middle school watching all the old Prospect highlights from the early 2000s when they won all the state championships. I looked up to them for so long, I wanted to win state with Prospect for as long as I can remember and I was looking forward to my senior year since then.
I remember a few of my teammates and I started recruiting kids to play football when we were in middle school, and a few of them are projected starters on this year's varsity team. This season means the world to my teammates and I and It means just as much to the coaches as well.
Every time I think about all the good times I had playing football the last few years it hits me that I should be playing football right now, but in the end we will be able to play football in the spring and hopefully we will make up for all the missed legendary plays and games that would be happening right now.
Batavia's Kyle Oroni (11) lets the ball fly during the second round of the IHSA Class 7A football playoffs last season.
- Brian Hill | Staff Photographer
By Kyle Oroni, Batavia High School
I grew up in a Batavia football family. All three of my brothers played for Batavia and I can't tell you the last game I missed.
This Friday would have been our first football game. I think I can speak for the whole team and say that it doesn't feel too good to see high school football being played in states around us as we have to just sit and wait.
Fall Friday nights in Batavia are not your average night. There is no better feeling than running out onto the field with a packed crowd. Football in Batavia has always had incredible support from our community. The community has always been the heart and soul of Batavia football, and that is why it hurts that much more that we won't be able to be playing for them on Friday nights this fall.
When I heard the news about football in February I had mixed emotions. My first thought was how much it would hurt to get tackled in 10-degree weather.
The next day our head coach, Dennis Piron, sat us down and explained something to us. He gave me a new perspective.
By football being in February that meant we had four more months together. That means we have four more months of an offseason together. That meant four more months of workouts. That meant four more months of going to the field with teammates and getting work in. That meant four more months that we would be able to spend together.
I think that mindset exemplifies the culture that surrounds Batavia football. There is no more important aspect to football other than brotherhood, and if that means that we have to play football in 10-degree weather just to have one more season together then we all will accept in a heartbeat.
Cary-Grove's Blake Skol, right, celebrates his first-quarter touchdown with Nathan Gamez against Huntley last season.
- Daily Herald File photo
By Nathan Gamez, Cary-Grove High School
Said by Gary Gaines, from Friday Night Lights, "Perfection is being able to look your friends in the eye and know you did everything you could not to let them down." All I wanted to do Friday, August 28th, was put the pads on and show my teammates perfection. After being eliminated during the quarterfinals last year, I immediately started thinking about this season and how it would've been different. I'm going into this 2020-2021 season with a chip on my shoulder.
My name is Nathan Gamez, and I am a senior at Cary-Grove High school. I've been playing football since middle school and I've met some of my closest friends through this sport. Football has been there for me more than anything. It has helped me create some of the happiest and most fun memories of my life. The bonds and relationships I've created with my teammates will never be forgotten. The games, practices, and lifting sessions have taught me valuable lessons that I know I will carry on with me for the rest of my life.
The emotions I feel every day have me on edge. This entire summer my friends and I have been reminiscing of memories and experiences we've shared. From team camps, early morning practices, team dinners, and even bus rides home from games. All these experiences we may never share together again have us worried. Every time we see each other, the topic comes up, what will this season look like? We admire our practices that we had at the beginning of the summer, before the season got postponed. We knew we were going to be great this season. I'd like to give credit for my experiences to coach (Brad) Seaburg, he has done a lot for me, and there is no one else I'd rather be coached by.
Personally, football has been an amazing part of my life. It was a place for me to get away from the outside world. All I had to worry about at practice was hitting the person in front of me. I wanted to get better every day. Football for me is a distraction from all other distractions.
Now, instead of putting on the number 51, walking out to the field with the sound of thousands of fans shouting and showing their support, and getting to outplay our opponent, I will now have to spend the night inside, socially distant, and wonder what could have been Friday, August, 28th.