When you think of spring, you think of baseball, March Madness, but high school football? well, in a year like no other, Illinois schools are set to stage a season like no other.
"It's heartbreaking," said Mount Carmel senior wide receiver/free safety Trevin Medina.
"It was pretty frustrating," said Mount Carmel sophomore starting quarterback Cole Broster.
"It was odd for sure," said Mount Carmel football head coach Michael Brewer.
The hallowed Snake pit at Mount Carmel has been the home of state title contending football teams in the fall for decades. However, in 2020 it remained silent and empty, as Coronavirus shut down the entire state of Illinois. Adding to the sting of a lost season, the Golden Aces had to watch as their interstate rivals from Indiana play.
We got started kind of in July, with our normal summer routine, and then kind of had the brakes put on you," said Brewer. "So, everything stopped. and then you have to kind of deal too with watching Indiana play. That was frustrating, just to know that 15 minutes away, common opponents that you're used to playing, were playing football and you weren't."
"It was like sitting around, couldn't really do much," said Medina. "But every once in a while, a couple of guys got together and watched some Indiana teams play. It made us pretty mad. We weren't really happy, but we got to watch football I guess."
However, after more than a year off, those byestanding days are over, as the Illinois High School Athletic Association has devised a plan to play a spring schedule. Unfortunately, it conflicts with traditional spring sports. So, Mount Carmel will be without some of its top players, including four-year starting quarterback Caleb Appleby. Considered a likely Major League draft prospect, he's turned his attention to baseball. However that's given younger players an opportunity to get a jump start on their varsity career.
"Cole Broster will be our quarterback this year," said Brewer. "He's a sophomore, but he's played in our program since third grade. we've had some guys like that we've lost. but for the most part, we have everybody we expected."
"It's kind of a challenge, but i think my coaches and my teammates helped me out and got me ready," said Broster. "I think I'm pretty ready for this."
Now adding to this already odd situation of spring football is the fact that season is only six games-long and that their is no post season, per the state of Illinois' rules. However, these guys are just happy to be back on the gridiron.
"We wished we had a playoff and we wish we had an opportunity for a postseason, but we're making the best out of a bad situation," said Brewer. "Just the fact that they lost it. It felt like something got taken and now it's back. I think that makes them ready to play, anxious to play."
"We would probably make the playoffs, but i think as long as we're getting out there and getting some games in," said Broster. "Especially to prepare for this fall, because we've got most of our guys returning, I think it's a great opportunity to be able to play."
"We still get six games." said Medina. "It's better than nothing. that's how we're looking at it."
Another change will be start times. there will be no Friday night lights for the Golden Aces, with kickoffs set for 2 o'clock Saturday afternoons, beginning this Saturday at home against Paris. Another novelty these guys won't miss.
"We're pretty pumped," said Medina. "We haven't played in a long time."
"Go out there," said Broster. "Play hard and get a win."