High school football players seek new avenues with delayed start to season

CALGARY — The Calgary Senior High School Association’s decision to postpone the start of its fall sports schedule in response to the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted athletes across the city.

The move will affect a number of sports including volleyball, cross-country running, soccer and football, leaving student athletes scrambling to find other ways to play the games they love.

Danny McMullen is a Grade 11 student at Ernest Manning High School who was eagerly anticipating quarterbacking the Griffins this season. There’s now a significant chance that won’t happen.

“Well it’s really disappointing and hopefully we can get it in in the spring but there’s nothing you can really do about it. So you just have to take opportunities you have and work with them.”

One of those opportunities McMullen is talking about is playing 7-on-7 football. The sport gives young athletes a chance to get back on the field and work on their skills.

Matteo Civitarese is a Grade 11 student at Notre Dame High School. He says it’s great to be able to play football again.

“You know 7-on-7 is great. Just helps you develop and feel like football is back, almost.”

Former Calgary Stampeder Keon Raymond brought the 7-on-7 game to Alberta. He feels for the senior players who may miss their final chance to show their skills on the high school field to post-secondary scouts, but he’s attempting to help put the players in front of the right eyes.  

“I couldn’t imagine having to go through a global pandemic and something like this,” said Raymond. “But, with that being said, I wanted to be able to create an opportunity for these kids to play. We’re filming these kids and sending it off to colleges and universities.”

It’s been three years since Raymond first introduced the game — played without pads or tackling —  to Alberta.

Raymond says the sport promotes skill and is getting bigger and better every year.

“I just wanted to create something for these kids to play, enjoy and have fun. 7-on-7 is growing. It’s the fastest growing game in North America and I’m happy to bring it to Alberta.”

There are other options available for high school football players. The Calgary Bantam Football Association just released its schedule and will begin play on Sept. 5.

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