Week 5 of the alternate fall football season signals the end for five area high schools.
Edgerton, Evansville, Whitewater, Clinton and Beloit Turner wrap up their seasons Friday night.
The rest of the area schools, including Janesville Craig and Janesville Parker, have at least one or two more games after this week.
And with the spring sports season that started Monday, many schools will be dealing with players participating in more than one sport at the same time. That will certainly pose a challenge for coaches, players and schedule-makers, who won’t have Friday to make up baseball or boys tennis games and matches for at least three more weeks because of previously scheduled football games.
No one knows the challenges of sports seasons overlapping more than Clayton Kreger. He’s not only Janesville Parker’s football coach but the school’s athletic director, as well.
Kreger said they’re navigating uncharted waters as best they can.
“When we started the season, we knew things were not going to be perfect during a spring football season,” Kreger said. “This year we had to be extremely creative with our practices because we know on a daily basis there will be numerous guys gone each day due to a sore throat, runny nose, kids that are working, college visits, ACT/AP test prep, spring break and multiple-sport athletes preparing for their spring season.
“It has been a challenge, there is no other way to say it; however, I truly believe our players and coaches have given 100% effort to make this season happen.”
The spring sports season is shortened this year and started late, but the WIAA plans to crown state champions in each and every sport. Those participating in the alternate fall football season will not have a tournament series, which makes it easier for football coaches to juggle practice schedules and let athletes join their spring sports teams.
Kreger said that with everything student/athletes have gone through the last year with COVID-19 restrictions, getting back on the playing field is paramount. The 2020 high school spring season was cancelled.
“Over the last several weeks, we have been sharing athletes with spring sports throughout their coaching contact days, pitchers and catchers reporting, practices and now spring competitions will be starting.
“I know all our coaches are doing everything they can to share and not overwork athletes throughout the month of April overlap.
“In a normal year, we have between 10-12 hours of full team prep each week prior to game day, but this week we have about 6-7 hours and next week will be even less with spring competitions starting.”
At smaller schools such as Edgerton, many athletes play two or three sports. To be able to run practices efficiently, athletes are shuffling between football practice, and either baseball or track and field.
Drew Hanson is one of those athletes. The Edgerton senior standout is the starting quarterback on the football team and is expected to be one of the top pitchers on what should be a very good baseball team.
Hanson said it has been a busy but rewarding week with the start of the spring sport season.
“It is definitely very weird, and something I’ve never had to worry about with school sports, but it will all work out in the end,” Hanson said. “I’m just glad we got the opportunity to do both.”
Hanson begins practice in one of the two sports immediately after school and doesn’t get done with practice from the second sport until 7:30 p.m., depending on what day it is and which sport is practicing first. He’ll step under center for the last time Friday night.
Throw in competitions starting next week in baseball, boys golf, track and field, and tennis for some schools, and it’s easy to see the challenges ahead for those schools with one or two more weeks of football left.
Yet compared to where things stood one year ago, I doubt you’ll hear many complaints.
Game of the Week
Evansville (3-1) at Jefferson (3-1), nonconference, 7 p.m., Friday, Jefferson High School—These two one-loss teams can wrap up a successful alternate fall season with a win. Both teams’ only loss was to unbeaten Monroe.
Jefferson comes in with a high-powered offense. The Eagles are averaging 31.0 points a game.
Led by the one-two punch of Brady Gotto and Nate McKenzie, Jefferson is averaging 233 yards rushing a game. McKenzie has 256 yards and six touchdowns.
Tyr Severson continues to air it out for the Blue Devils. The senior quarterback leads the state in passing yards with 973. He’s thrown for six touchdowns and rushed for six TDs.
Evansville is averaging 32.8 points a game.
Best guess: Evansville 34, Jefferson 20