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St. Mary’s and Timon signify a “return to normal” on the football field

The masks were on, stands were sparsely filled, and high fives were limited. But, even for just three hours on a Saturday afternoon, it felt as close to “normal” as it has in over a year for Bishop Timon and St. Mary’s.

The two schools opened the 2021 spring football season in a last-minute scheduled game at Depew High School. Though the game was a one-sided 32-7 St. Mary’s victory, it was more about playing than it was the result.

“It just feels good after having such a long break,” said St. Mary’s quarterback Jayden Wilson. “There’s really nothing else you can ask for. It was just great.” St. Mary’s head coach Matthew Ard said seeing the players in pads, and being able to have football to coach and play was a nice, albeit temporary, escape from the world around everyone.

“It feels great to be playing football again, especially for the seniors we have on this team,” he said. “These kids have been working since August for this opportunity. I’m happy for them to actually play.”

For Timon, it was the first game for the team since November 16, 2019. “It was just awesome waking up this morning knowing it was gameday,” Timon head coach Joe Licata said. “Just getting the visor ready to go and coach was awesome.”

As the game began, it was clear that two teams who hadn’t played a football game in 16 months were taking the field. Sloppy football along with mistakes and miscues were bound to happen, and did. Again, however, it was almost as though the results were secondary to just playing. Just seeing the smiles on the faces of both sidelines during warmup, kickoff, and throughout the game was contagious for everyone around. Coaches were excited to help the young men play their best while the student-athletes jumped around and celebrated every single successful play.

There was an appreciation for what had been lost due to the Covid 19 pandemic.

“We are going to enjoy these next five games,” Ard told his team after the game. “You are playing for the guys to your left and right.” He closed with telling his team to appreciate being able to play this game, and use that appreciation as motivation for effort moving forward. A sentiment sure to be shared by every team that suits up this spring.

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