|Canisius Crusaders take the field during a recent game|
By Evan DiPasquale, Michaela Frazier and Danielle Stiegler
Fans are cheering, players are face to face, the whistle blows, and the ball is kicked off.
High school football is back in action on the West Side. After a long break due to COVID-19, high schools on the are able to have their fans in the stands and players on the field. However, the time off has affected the teams and how games are carried out from now on. Football season usually starts in the beginning of the school year, but for many teams it started in the spring.
Hutch Tech took a break from football until the first game on April 3, and it had a big impact on all athletes. The players were not only affected mentally, but also physically due to the pandemic. Gyms were closed, and students did not have the resources they needed to maintain their athletic physique.
Coaches are working overtime to make sure their team is back to its full potential. They are able to have a full practice and players are able to use the to use the weight room at school to make up for out of shape players.
“A lot of kids that normally would train with us didn’t necessarily train with the team this time around. They weren’t in as game shape as they should be because the team lacked chemistry. They knew the plays, but they didn’t know how to play with each other,” Engineers Head Coach Tony Truilizio said.
COVID-19 is still a concern at big gatherings like high school football. Protocols need to be followed to make sure fans and the teams are safe. For public schools like Hutchinson Technical, there are guidelines that still have to be followed. Public schools are mandated by the state to follow the COVID restrictions: symptom check questionnaires, temperature on arrival, and social distancing in the stands. Masks are not required but encouraged.
“If there is a positive COVID-19 test I’ve been instructed to notify my principal and the athletic department once I’ve been notified,” Truilizio said.
Truilizio said that he is grateful his players are respectful and considerate when it comes to doing what they can to prevent contracting the virus. He has not had a COVID-19 case yet on his team. His players know that if they do not feel well, they should stay home to protect the rest of the team.
Canisius is ranked No. 1 in New York State, according to MaxPreps. Bryce Hopkins, associate head coach of Canisius said that last season was a frustrating.
Canisius Director of Athletics Jim Mauro on the challenges facing high school sports during the pandemic
Due to COVID-19 teams couldn’t play games and that meant a lot of students couldn’t be scouted, obtain scholarships, or get offers from other colleges. This hurt the players as the National Signing Day was in February, and the Crusaders wouldn’t play until March, which limited the time scouts would get to see the games. Many students at Canisius lost their chance at different dreams, schools, and lives.
Not only did football have to be moved to the spring, which would completely change the season's schedule, but Canisius’ season was cut in half. The team played both St. Joes and St . Francis twice, as well a game against Iona Prep in New Rochelle, NY.
During their season Canisius had to pause their season due to a positive COVID test. In Erie County, it is mandatory that teams with more than one positive case must take a break in the season. Like any team, it hurt them because the athletes couldn’t practice or play in games. The school really makes sure that all their students stay safe.
“We distance in our team meetings; we generally break our meetings up into positions group which allows us to have smaller indoor compacities in rooms.” Hopkins said.
To ensure that the team wouldn’t have more outbreaks, Hopkins said that he often talks to his players and making sure they are being responsible. Coaches of the Crusaders have also encouraged the athletes to get vaccinated, but vaccination is not required to play.
Both Canisius and Hutch Tech along with the rest of the teams on the West Side are gearing for the rest of their 2021 season. Hutch Tech has three more regular season games, and Canisius has five games.