Bye-Bye Bengals

Blake Football finished the season with a beautiful senior night and a 50-0 blowout win against Northwood. 

The game took an astounding start not only when the team made 3 touchdowns in the first quarter, but they didn’t stop there. Northwood’s team tried to catch up but struggled to keep up with Blake’s quick feet and amazing plays which made the game extremely amusing. Despite the freezing temperature and gusting wind, the energy from the crowd kept the game entertaining and distracted from the cold.

The game felt different with no student section, marching band, and poms, but Blake football made the game feel normal when they made their grand entrance with their blue smoke bomb. The coaches had to get used to a season during the pandemic. Coach Byron Marshall says “We didn’t have much time to prepare so that made it very difficult. At one point we didn’t even know if we were going to play and then we found out we were so we have to get ready as quickly as possible. Mother nature was not kind to us for the first few weeks with rain and cold temperatures, but it was all for the kids and making sure they had fun.” Marshall also mentions that having a season during the pandemic made him realize a lot. “It made me personally not take the game for granted because it can be taken away at any moment.”

Preparing for the games in a new setting made it a bit challenging. Marshall says “We did have to be creative with practice with the outside pod limits, not being able to go inside when it rained and having to have virtual practices.” He also states how appreciative he was to have a season at all given the circumstances,“I would have liked to have had more but at one point we didn’t have any games. So I’d take 3 games over 0 any day.” Despite the change in the practice setting, it did become beneficial in Coach Deshawn Andersons’ eyes, as he states “Truthfully, I wish we had spring practices every year during the spring.  In VA, where I am from, high schools are allowed to have spring workouts. Spring workouts can give both the players and coaches the opportunity to see where the team is physically and mentally.  Now we have a good baseline of areas we need to improve as a team and kids understand where they need to improve as an athlete.” Anderson also talks about the new zoom and how it affected him and the team during the season. “Will I was one of those Coaches that has always used technology in our game preparations and meetings. So when we were forced to use Zoom and other informational technology because of COVID-19,it wasn’t so cumbersome because I was already comfortable using them. You have other concerns like kids safety, socially distancing practice, water for the kids, and the added pressure that if one of our kids or coaches got COVID-19 our season was over.”

Having a season was a great highlight for the coaches. They enjoyed the presence of the players and being able to spend time with their seniors before they go off to start their future. Marshall says “Just being around the kids for the last 7-8 weeks. Seeing them smiling and having fun after this difficult year we’ve all been through. In both games we won, it was good to just see them smiling and laughing.”With all the changes because of the pandemic, the biggest change was the absence of JV football. Instead, everyone was on the same football team. Now that the seniors are leaving, a lot of people are wondering how the team will be affected. Marshall notes that “Time will tell. This spring was good for the younger guys to get some varsity experience so hopefully, it will translate into the fall.” Anderson also feels similarly and states that “This spring has given us the chance to evaluate all of our young players.  Also gave them some needed varsity experiences that we hope would make them better athletes and prepared them for what it takes to be successful during the Fall.”