Northwest suburbs' football teams happy to be back at it
High school football is back where it belongs.
After a year when the COVID-19 pandemic caused the high school football season to be moved from its traditional fall time slot to spring, things are back to normal.
"It is good to have some normalcy back," Prospect senior linemen Sam Tsagalis said. "Everyone here has come together, and we feel real good as a team. The environment is definitely different than playing in the spring. But the energy that everyone brings to the field is the same."
On Monday, area players were out on the practice fields despite having to dodge the rain and storms. The teams were having their first official practices of the season. Most had to dodge the rain and thunderstorms to do that.
Palatine was able to beat the afternoon rains with a 6 a.m. practice.
"The early bird gets the worm," Palatine coach Corey Olson said. "Every now and then again you get rewarded. Sometimes you get up early and there are storms too. But today it worked out."
Palatine got in about a two-hour practice before the rains sent the Pirates scrambling from their stadium.
"It feels great to be out there," Olson said. It was good. We did our conditioning test and all the kids we were counting on showed up in shape. We were then able to do some work and about hour into that the rains came."
With summer winding away Friday Night Lights, which begins on August 27, will have that same old feeling. After a shortened 6-game spring season, that ended on April 23, it was back on the field 108 days later. Despite the fast changeover, coaches and players are ready for a full 9-game season.
"It is a quick turnaround that's for sure, "said Prospect coach Dan DeBoeuf, whose team was able to get a full practice completed Monday afternoon.
"We definitely adjusted what we did this past summer. We lost the whole offseason. We took the month of June and didn't even pick up a football and just worked on strength and conditioning."
The season will return to its regular schedule with teams playing nonconference and conference games. The Mid-Suburban League and Central Suburban League will continue their agreement to play nonconference games during Weeks 2 and 3.
The season will have 256 teams qualify for the state playoffs. The season will then culminate Thanksgiving weekend with the state finals, which will be held at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb.
Practice on Monday was outside for those teams that were able to beat the weather. But players were required to wear masks for indoor meetings and while dressing in the locker room.
"All you can ask for is to be back out here," said Payton Burgh, a senior linebacker from Prospect. "Being out here with my teammates is great. And no masks."
Barrington coach Joe Sanchez, whose team won the MSL title game in the final game of the spring season, said his team was able to get its practice in.
"Today looked like Day One," Sanchez said. "But I was pleasantly surprised by the kids. We graduate a great class every year. "That's kind of par for the course. Now it is the next class' turn."