The just-completed 2020 high school football season was one that won’t soon be forgotten. From great games and individual performances to games being cancelled due to the COVID-19 virus, the season provided a lot of memorable moments.
Coaches, players, administrators and the OSSAA should all be commended for completing the season despite having to navigate a lot of unknowns.
“Zero week we played Union and Coach Fridrich and I looked at each other right before kickoff and it was like, this is getting ready to happen,” recalled Bixby head coach Loren Montgomery. “We were just thrilled that we had the opportunity to get some games in.”
“I almost felt like a coronavirus compliance coordinator,” joked Montgomery, who led the Spartans to the 6A-II state title. “I know the kids got tired of me preaching and all the safety protocols that we used to try and keep everyone as healthy as possible. It was challenging.”
From week to week, schools were unsure if they would get to play that Friday night or not. It forced many teams to schedule games with new opponents on a day’s notice.
“The kids understood that it could be taken away at any point in time,” remarked first-year Putnam City coach Carter Whitson, who had two games cancelled this season. “They saw it happen. They’re fortunate they got to play. They had a lot more thrown at them than any high school kid should have thrown at them.”
One silver lining to the roller-coaster season was it provided coaches an opportunity to show kids that you can’t take anything for granted.
“You just tell them that every day is a blessing,” said Norman North head coach Justin Jones. “We don’t know what’s in store for us in the future. We took it day by day and tried to not look too far down the road. It allowed us to really focus.”
“They had to understand that they had to do their due diligence,” commented Booker T. Washington coach Jonathan Brown, who completed his first season at the helm of his alma mater.
“Sometimes we have to change our lives, and you might not like that, but it’s only for a small period of time, as far as life is concerned. If you want to be able to continue to play this game, you have to take precautions outside of football.”
For Choctaw head coach Jake Corbin, losing spring and summer workouts due to COVID-19 helped remind him why he’s a coach in the first place.
“Man, I missed them,” admitted Corbin. “When we couldn’t see them during quarantine it was like, I miss my coaches, the kids, my program. I got really excited, maybe a little more so, because it wasn’t guaranteed. We’re doing what we can to keep our players and coaches safe, to protect the game and continue to do what we love each day.”
“I think the whole situation made them appreciate football so much, you know,” added Montgomery. “From being quarantined from spring break on to when we finally got to come back in June and start working out, the kids’ attitudes were great.”