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A truly unique season begins: The return of SPASH Football

Published: Mar. 8, 2021 at 9:56 PM CST
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STEVENS POINT, Wis. (WSAW) -Only one team in our viewing area decided to take part in the alternate spring high school football season-- the SPASH Panthers. Monday, they took to the field for the first time.

“We always believed that this day would happen,” said SPASH head coach Pete McAdams.

The last time the team took the field was over 500 days ago on Oct. 18, 2019 against D.C. Everest.

“All we’ve been talking about is we’re going on a 16-month offseason right now,” said McAdams.

The wait ended Monday with their first practice of the spring season.

“It’s incredible to be back out here,” said Foster Kowalski, a senior offensive tackle for the Panthers. “All of my teammates, the coaches, it’s amazing that we got this opportunity to come back after so long again.”

“We had a countdown clock in our school reminding these guys about it,” McAdams explained. “Every day at our workouts, they were able to count down the days until March 8, because really that’s what it was all about, we couldn’t wait to get back together.”

Monday’s practice featured the usual: Stretching, position work, one-on-ones, seven-on-sevens.

But, after 16 months without the game, the Panthers aren’t taking any of it for granted.

“It definitely excites us,” said Brady Dillingham, a senior quarterback/receiver/safety for SPASH. “But I feel like our love for the game just has been building, especially not being able to play for so long.”

“Just the excitement between the teammates,” said Carter Borchardt, a senior safety and linebacker, on what he missed during the layoff. “Me personally, I’m on the defensive side of the ball, just everybody getting excited when someone makes a big play, that’s something I missed the most.”

Monday marks the beginning of a truly unique season. There are just five regular-season games and there is no gold ball waiting at the end.

But, after everything it took to get to this point, the Panthers players and coaches are ready for it.

McAdams: “Hopefully, these kids will look back 20 years from now, 30 years from now, and it’ll be an experience that nobody else will ever have,” McAdams said. “So, we are embracing that, and more than anything, our kids have really shown some great perseverance and resiliency throughout this time.”

The Panthers’ first game will be at Neenah on March 26, their home opener will be at Goerke Park against Bay Port on April 1.

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