08-20-2020 Tri-City Area Sports

MEN UP FRONT… Watervliet Panther linemen prepare for a football season that won’t start until the spring. From the left: Perry Rowe, Parker Lanning, Isaiah Yazel, Connor Underwood, and Royce Daugherty.

Coloma Press Box By Dave Vollrath

No high school football in fall of 2020, planning to play in spring of ‘21 The dreaded COVID-19 has struck again, and this time it has taken away Friday night high school football for the fall of 2020. Yes, football is the newest victim of the virus which has taken away all high school sports since the first part of March this year. However unlike some of the winter sports and all of the spring sports, there are plans being worked on now to play the 2020-21 football season in the spring, and moving some of the spring sports out until the football season comes to an end. Football is the only Michigan high school sport to get chopped as of this writing, with all other fall sports currently still on track to take place as scheduled. The Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) sent a letter out on Friday, Aug. 14 making the following announcement, “The representative council of the MHSAA today announced it will move the 2020 football season to the spring of 2021, due to football’s higher risk for spreading COVID-19, with the rest of fall sports proceeding as scheduled. The football season switch was made based on consultation with state health department officials and after surveying MHSAA member high schools on their progress and preferences after the first 4 days of practice. Football is considered a high-risk sport for the potential spread of the COVID-19 because of its level of player-to-player contact.” There were over 34,000 student-athletes who played football at MHSAA member schools during the 2019 season. There were 520 11-player teams and 83 8-player teams expected to play football this fall, according to late summer counts. Playing high school football in the spring while unique will at least provide the 2020-21 seniors the opportunity to play their final year of high school football. Coloma athletic director Wendy Goodline when asked for her thoughts on the change says that she thought it was inevitable, and now that the decision has been made they have plenty of time to come up with a good solid plan to play football in the spring. According to Comet head football coach Joe Stephens, more information is supposed to come out very soon on what the March-May football season might look like. There are many challenges to making these changes and still be able to have full spring sports, which has already lost a full season in the spring of 2020. One of the concerns would have to be playing football in the spring, ending in May, and then only having a couple of months to let the body heal before being back on the gridiron in August. Football is a very physical sport, not only during games, but practices. Weight and conditioning training really take a toll, and many football players also play other sports which leave little time to heal from one season to the next. When asked about this concern Coach Stephens says that if it means all of Coloma’s kids, especially the seniors, will get to play the sport they love, then he will do everything he can to make sure they are as prepared as possible. Coloma cross-country team ready to get running While the fall football season has moved to spring the Coloma cross-country team is continuing to prepare to run through the fall. The Comet girls made a big step up last season when they qualified as a team to run at the Michigan State cross-country finals, contested at the Michigan International Speedway across the state in Brooklyn. Several of the girls who ran at the state finals are back to give it another go and hopefully improve on their finish at state. The Coloma boys will also be looking to improve on last year, and possibly join the girls on that big track normally raced on by the top NASCAR drivers in the sport. The Comets still have a relatively young squad, with only three seniors, Blane Sutherland, Abby Vandermolen, and Kayla Walter, who are back for their final year. Ava Genovese, Chloe Williams, Camryn Brown, Bailey McVay, and Skylar Wolfe are the underclassmen who make up the rest of the Comet girls roster. Abby, Chloe, and Ava, are all motivated runners, and each of them can cross the finish line first, on any given day, and should push themselves and the others to run their best. The Coloma boys have a large group of underclassmen pounding the pavement around town with Blane, and they are Andy Granados, Jake Ickes, Caeleb Ishmael, Ethan Vandermolen, McKinleigh Kraemer, Aiden Cripe, Boden Genovese, Ben Hess, Cameron Schink, Carter Crist, and Cali Grenon. According to Comet head coach Courtney Churchill, she says her team is young but they are very strong. Each one of them can step up and take leadership roles. Camryn, Chloe, Ava and Boden all attended a weeklong camp up in Traverse City over the summer where they learned about nutrition and healthy running habits. It was a great experience for those runners, and also great for others on the team, as they share many of the fresh new ideas they learned at camp. The first meet for the Comets will find them running at The Big Hill Climb (that sounds painful), in Three Rivers. Coach Churchill is excited for the season and says, “The kids have put in a lot of work over the summer, and I feel like we’re more prepared for the season than in years past. Everyone is healthy and strong.” The coach also says that it will be a different kind of season without the support of the parents on the course to cheer their kids, but it’s great they’re going to have a season even with the changes and challenges brought about by the COVID-19 virus.