Philomath High’s Clemens Field
Philomath High School’s Clemens Field. (File photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

It’s been a while since we’ve experienced Friday night football. You know the feel — excitement in the air, conversation about how the boys might fare this season, youngsters throwing a football around on the far side of the grandstands, the band playing the fight song, the cheer squad getting people revved up.

Is it realistic to believe we’ll have football? It’s Dec. 23 and a few weeks ago, the Oregon School Activities Association revised its schedule that shows football practice beginning on Feb. 8 and a six-game season getting started on March 1.

The virus is still here, we’re wearing masks and the on-again, off-again routine of eating takeout at home continues. The students are still in distance learning and those latest COVID numbers make you wonder if we’ll ever get back to school.

The governor’s office and the Oregon Health Authority have not changed their minds about full-contact sports just yet — and that includes football. They are still prohibited.

Meanwhile, the vaccine has arrived to create hope that we’ll actually get back to normal one day. I’m sure that will be the case, but can it happen before Feb. 8?

Those of us who enjoy watching PHS athletics feel for the kids, especially the seniors. Beyond those missing out on their final opportunity to wear Warrior colors, the underclassmen also lose a season and in fact, a disruption to the entire system ripples all the way down to the youth programs.

A lot of pieces go into this giant puzzle and I’m not sure what to expect. All I know is that athletics can be very, very important to a lot of these kids. You might even say that some may not go back to school if they don’t have their favorite activities there as a motivating factor.

This whole conversation I’m throwing out goes beyond football, by the way — it’s just the example I’m using here. But the full-contact sports have the toughest road ahead. That ban needs to be lifted before anything can happen. The school district will obviously have a say on all this and a return to classrooms factors in.

For now, let’s just hope infection rates will drop as we come out of the holidays. If the spikes continue into January, well, that would not be good news on several fronts — including the chance that we’ll be playing sports.