Football team perseveres despite COVID-19, injuries

The football team heads into the rest of their season with high hopes of improving their 2-5 record despite experiencing many hardships due to COVID-19 and injuries.

Head coach Michael Golden said that he is frustrated and disappointed with the current record, and he added that even though they have a losing record, the team has been competitive in most of their games.

The football team has been forced to deal with many hardships this season, assistant coach John Smith explained.

“We are growing as a team and they are learning how to deal with adversity,” he said.

Junior Dominic Gutter takes on a player from Harvest Preparatory in their game Oct. 1. (Photo by Grayson Fletcher)

Smith added that these setbacks include issues with injuries and COVID-19.

“Unfortunately we lost positions that were thin to begin with, but it may provide opportunities for kids to step up,” Smith said.

The loss of key players has definitely had a significant impact on the team’s success, Smith said. He explained that losing multiple two-way starters, players who play on both offense and defense, have all been hard blows to deal with. Some of these players include senior Calvin Burzynski, senior Gus Pitstick and junior Bennett Bloebaum, Smith added.

“ [Burzynski] was the heart and soul of the team coming in,” Smith said, adding that the impact of Burzynski’s injury on the team was a big one.

Golden further explained that in other ways, injuries have contributed to their successes.

“There have been lots of young kids forced into action, maybe a little bit ahead of their time, and have done a good job,” Golden explained.

Senior Gus Pitstick agreed with the coaches, saying that even though injuries are inevitable in a football season, their team has experienced an abnormal amount of them.

Golden said that COVID-19 impacted their team greatly at one point in the season.

“We had nine players who were quarantined,” Golden said.

The players missed one game and didn’t practice the following week except for one brief practice, he added.

Golden explained that losing players due to COVID-19 hindered their performance.

“When pieces are missing, people have to do more than what was originally designed.”

Pitstick said that he is looking forward to the team’s game against Grandview. Even though he is injured, he has high hopes for the rest of the team, Pitstick said.

Junior Jonathan Spiess, the quarterback, said he shares this excitement and hopes to beat Grandview and Academy to end the season on a high note.

Despite the many difficulties the team has faced, Smith said he was hopeful for the remaining games this season.

“I think every game we are excited to see who’s going to compete and who’s not going to compete and who’s going to step up,” Smith said.

Golden added that his goal for the team is that he expects his players to put in maximum effort.

“Our expectation is only to do your best every single day and then take that out onto the field,” Golden said. “All you can control is your own effort.”

The return of fans, he said, has also benefited the team.

“It’s been neat to see the student body come out and support them after the game,” Golden said. “I think that was a real high for the kids. It makes it more fun.”