Delayed season begins this week
Marcus Fish was not happy Friday nights last fall.
The Sheboygan South senior knew football players at Lutheran and Christian, just miles away, were playing as part of the co-op team with Kohler. Some of his former middle school teammates were also on the field for Plymouth.
But not his Redwings.
“I was just bummed out that we weren’t able to play,” he said.
Fish finally gets his chance Friday, as the alternative fall season begins for South – and North.
The schools will compete in a 20-team conference that features four groups of five teams.
North and South will be in Group D along with Oshkosh North, Green Bay East and Green Bay West. In addition to four league games, each school has an additional opponent on its five-game schedule.
There will also be two playoff games for all 20 squads.
“Not even into our first game yet, and last week there were a couple of practices that felt like late fall,” South coach Jason Harder said. “It’s kind of backwards. As the season goes on, we should get warmer weather and it should get nicer – theoretically.”
Usually practice starts in August. This time it began March 8, when snow – albeit melting – was still on the ground.
“It’s definitely way different,” Fish said.
The first week of practice was spent in the gym and a classroom, which was not as bad as some might think.
“It really worked out for us,” North coach Joe O’Brien said.
“I’m super positive about the work we did inside and it did allow for us to focus in on some of the things that I think all coaches wish they had the time for. Like leadership development and working through some of the mental toughness, camaraderie, and things like that.”
The Golden Raiders finally practiced outside March 13, although as of last week they still had to walk over a shaded hill with some snow on it.
In August, the concern is heat and hydration.
“They both certainly have their pros and cons,” O’Brien said. “The temperature right now is much more suitable. We can put more clothes on. We can put a sweatshirt on, the warm stuff on, and if we get warm, we can take it off.
“In the summer and then fall, there’s not much you can do to cool off except for getting some water and cool down after practice.”
Another difference to the start of the season is players are in school. Normally, coaches have all summer to prepare and even play a couple of games before the first bell rings.
They now also have to worry about following COVID-19 protocols, keeping track of symptom forms, wearing masks and changing plans more than one would like.
“The kids have done really well adapting to things and I appreciate their willingness to show up and work,” Harder said.
And by the time the season ends – the second playoff game is May 7 – there is far less of an offseason, as contact days will be just two months away.
Will there even be any time for a vacation?
“We’re going to get away,” O’Brien said. “It might be an extended weekend. But yeah, we’ve got to get away. I’ve got four kids at home that have been good sports through this whole thing.
“So we need to get them out of the house.”
AT A GLANCE
• The team was 1-8 last season, although it snapped a 25-game losing streak thanks to its victory over South.
• Senior running back Willie Robinson was second on the squad with 257 yards rushing.
• Karter Bell and Kade Allen, also seniors, are back as well.
• But not only will there be a new quarterback, the lone Golden Raider to make all-conference (Cassius Rohadfox) is now playing at UM-Duluth.
• After four straight years of going 1-8, the team was 3-7 last season – its most wins since 2014.
• Senior Marcus Fish led the Redwings with 76 total tackles, including 48 solo, to earn all-conference second team as an inside linebacker last season.
• Quarterback Erik Gonzalez-Serna, another senior, completed 59 passes for 665 yards and six touchdowns in 2019.
• Seniors Dylan Foth (second with 251 yards rushing) and Isaac Holder (second with 202 yards receiving) also return.
• The other four players who made all-conference graduated, however.