PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD/WYZZ) — It wasn’t exactly opening day or the first day of practice.
But high school football players didn’t care. They took to the practice field Tuesday as fall contact days begin across the state this week.
“It means a lot. Actually, I had work today and I called off work because I know how much my team needs me and how much I need my team,” said Peoria High senior Izaiah Haslett. “And it feels good to be out here with the music, a lot of hype and to do what we do best.”
The Illinois High School Association moved football from the fall to the spring during the pandemic in hopes of saving the season. Football is deemed at “at risk” sport in Illinois and schools couldn’t have a fall season under state health guidelines.
The high school football season is scheduled to begin March 5. Team had limited practices in the summer and now will be allowed 20 practices between Sept. 7 and Oct. 31.
“It’s really exciting. Usually we would be out here all the way since the beginning of August and even the summer, but without that, it’s just been going home,” said Morton senior Christian Schlehuber. “It felt good, it just felt like going back to a little bit of normalcy.”
Football teams are still under restrictions. Athletes can wear helmets but are not allowed to pad up or have contact between players.
Yet, they are excited to reunite on the practice field.
“I’m getting nostalgia right now. We all miss football and especially now with senior year and we already missed a lot of last years sports,” said Dee-Mack senior Karson Eccles. “Nobody has ever been this excited to go practice.”