Summit High School football coach and quarterback are confident it’s safe to play amid COVID-19
FRISCO — For football fans, coaches and players, this past week was another eventful stretch of developments locally and nationally regarding the high-contact sport’s resumption amid the pandemic.
Over the past month, the restart of football has varied widely. In some states, high school football has resumed, while in others, including Colorado, the football season was delayed to spring. College football has seen some conferences choose to resume. At the same time, debate has continued about whether other conferences, namely the Big Ten, could restart in the fall after initially delaying the season to spring.
At the professional level, the National Football League resumed Thursday night in Kansas City with nearly 20,000 fans physically distanced in the stands at Arrowhead Stadium.
Summit High School football head coach James Wagner and senior captain quarterback Cam Kalaf watched Thursday night’s game between the reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs and the Houston Texans in the wake of an eventful week for high school football here in Colorado.
The coach and quarterback got their hopes up earlier this week when Gov. Jared Polis said he’d be thrilled to work with districts ready to resume fall football. But a day later, the state’s high school sports governing body, the Colorado High School Activities Association, voted unanimously against fall football, citing numerous factors including that high school athletes across the state already had committed to other fall sports.
Wagner said he and the team got their hopes up for a fall season after hearing through the Colorado high school football grapevine earlier in the week that there was a strong chance of football beginning Oct. 1.
“I can’t imagine being a kid, especially a senior, and having emotions go up and down like that,” Wagner said. “This is important for my kids. I know how much they are missing the fall season. It definitely affects them mentally.”
Despite the whiplash, the Tigers football program has continued to work out four days a week with student-athletes convening for strength and conditioning workouts on outdoor fields as early as 6 a.m. The team also has been repping their football schemes at practices on Mondays and Wednesdays.
Wagner said the conversation this week makes him more confident that the spring football season will happen, but he and Kalaf said they think it’s safe to play football this fall with the COVID-19 protocols the school has in place.
Kalaf also said he thinks it would be safe to have fans in the stands with distance between groups of family and friends, as was the case in Kansas City on Thursday night. The coach and quarterback said a fall season would be better for Summit considering spring winter weather, with Kalaf describing a spring season as potentially having “blizzard ball.”
“I definitely think it should be happening, but with cautionary measures,” Wagner said. “… With results of other states effectively having seasons with, so far, not having spikes in cases, I think it’s doable for us, as well.”
Kalaf, who like other Summit High students has returned to in-person instruction at the school two days a week, said it “felt like Christmas” when he found out CHSAA was considering a fall restart. Alas, he and his teammates will have to wait for spring. One of those teammates is junior and fellow captain Aidan Collins, who said if health officials deem it unsafe to play this fall and that playing in the spring is a better option, he’s all for it.
“It just gives us that much more time to prepare,” Collins said.
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