High school spring football practice begins
By Rich Palzewic
BROWN COUNTY – The high school spring football season is here.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) gave schools across the state the opportunity to move their seasons from last fall to this spring.
Practice for those making the switch began Tuesday, March 9.
Seymour and West De Pere were the only two local schools to play their seasons last fall, while Ashwaubenon, Bay Port, De Pere, Green Bay East, Green Bay N.E.W. Lutheran (8-man), Green Bay Preble, Green Bay Southwest, Green Bay West, Notre Dame Academy and Pulaski are playing this spring.
Notre Dame had plans to play last fall, but several COVID-19 cases within the team forced the Tritons to switch to this spring as well.
Teams will play seven games this spring, with no state champions being crowned.
“First of all, the weather was amazing for our first day, and we’re excited to be out here,” said Bay Port head coach Gary Westerman. “There’s been a ton of energy the last few weeks, so we’re jacked to be out here.”
Westerman said he wasn’t sure this day would come.
“I thought it would be difficult,” he said. “But, the more we got through the winter sports season, the better I felt. Hats off to our administration.”
Bay Port, the 2019 WIAA Division 1 state runner-up, is the last team in the state (along with Muskego) to play in a playoff game because COVID-19 wiped out last fall’s postseason.
The Pirates’ 21-10 loss to Muskego came on Nov. 22, 2019.
“It’s been surreal,” said Westerman. “It’s tough to explain. I’ve either played or coached football since the seventh grade and hadn’t missed a season. It was weird for the kids and the coaches. A lot of us are built to play and coach. Maybe we didn’t realize how much we missed it until it was taken away. That adds to the level of excitement.”
With most players not playing a game in almost a year and a half, Westerman said it won’t affect how he coaches or how the kids play.
The spring season ends in May, so kids will be playing normal fall football three months later.
“We’re simply going to play,” said Westerman. “Our kids are smart and our system isn’t all that complicated. We were abe to get a few contact days in, and that was fun. Our kids will be ready to play. We’ll worry about next season once we get through this season. Our seniors deserve our full attention.”
Bay Port senior quarterback Eli Frank echoed Westerman’s thoughts.
“It’s been long anticipated and feels good to get back out here,” Frank said. “I didn’t have any doubts we’d play this spring. I want to play with everything I’ve got and compete.”
The Pirates will play Preble, Stevens Point, De Pere, Neenah and Fond du Lac, before playing a sixth and seventh game against teams to be determined.
“Seeing new teams will be exciting,” said Frank. “It adds to the excitement.”
To view the schedules for all local teams, CLICK HERE.