After a year of postponements and cancellations, the entire sports world is more than done with Coronavirus. However, as the Boonville football team found out last week, COVID is far from done with sports.
"It was gut-wrenching," says Boonville senior offensive tackle/defensive end Shane Newton.
"Everyone else got their first game in last week," says Boonville senior nose guard Zander Lacer.
"It was tough," says Boonville head coach Darin Ward.
The rich reward for a summer of sweat and struggle is opening night under the lights. But while the rest of the Tri-State was basking in gridiron glory, the Boonville football team was sidelined, through no fault of their own. A positive Coronavirus test at Paoli High School cancelled the Pioneers season opener. And while West Vido had a similar situation, head coach Darin Ward, couldn't convince the Vikings to play ball.
"We thought we had a plan B really quick with another school, West Vigo," says Ward. "Same situation kind of happened with them the day before. And we just couldn't get things to work out with them."
"We didn't get the information until Thursday morning," says Newton, "so we were prepped all week. We were going into Thursday, we normally do pre-game on Thursday."
"We were mentally prepared," says Newton. "As a team, we felt like we were ready to play our first game. It kind of took the team spirit out, because just finding out you're not going to play a week one game, but everyone else gets to play."
So instead of a raucus opening night on the gridiron, Bennett Field sat empty and silent. Not an unusual Friday night for this squad, considering what happened to them last year, when two of their games were halted by the same foe, Coronavirus.
"I felt bad for our seniors," says Ward, "because they dealt with it last year as juniors, losing two games last year to COVID. It was tough. Just knowing the preparation we put in and everybody looks forward to opening game. And to have that kind of taken away from you at the last second, was really tough."
"It seemed like deja vu a little bit, you know," says Lacer.
"Last year, we missed two weeks and to think we were finally past that. COVID was kind of over," says Newton. "Week one. Boom! It hits again. We miss another game. It was like, "Is last year going to repeat again?"."
However, as upsetting as it was, the Pioneers turned their scars into stars, as the focus quickly shifted to a new goal and a new opponent.
"It was definitely tough," says Lacer, "not being able to find a game. We looked around a little bit. But we're looking forward to playing Southridge this week. We had a good week last week. We're getting ready for this week. We're looking forward to it.
"We knew we had to look into next week against Southridge," says Newton. "That was going to be our week one game. The preparation kind of shifted towards playing Southridge. But that's more prep time. We were able to start watching Southridge over the weekend. As far as this week goes, we had a good practice yesterday and we're ready to start prepping this week and get ready for Southridge."
However, extra prep time alone won't help against the perennial Pocket Athletic Conference power, and the Pioneers know it.
"It's one of the top teams in Southwest Indiana, year in and year out," says Ward. "Have great tradition. Great football team last year, with all their skill players. The way they come out and play every Friday night is what most programs around would like to do."
"Southridge has been one of those programs over the last several years that's been a really good football team," says Newton. "They're a well known football team in this area."
"Southridge is a very good team," says Lacer. "They have a good program and they come to play. That's why we've been out here all summer. This our second week out here. We're ready to go out and play them."