West De Pere senior linebacker Jourdon Schuyler was aware last week going into Week 1 that a football season during a pandemic isn’t promised.
“We have made it this far,” said Schuyler, whose team lost to Hortonville on Friday. “To me, that’s a good step that we are here already. It’s a good step, but yeah, in the back of your mind there is some worry. What if a lot of people get it or there is a breakout?”
West De Pere hasn’t had a significant breakout, and none of the Phantoms players have gotten COVID-19 because of the precautions taken to mitigate it.
But the program still got shut down for three games after the school opted to go to online learning until Oct. 19.
Games against Kaukauna on Friday, Green Bay Notre Dame on Oct. 9 and Seymour on Oct. 16 have been canceled, although the showdown against the Tritons wouldn’t have happened any way after Notre Dame moved its football season to the spring earlier this week.
“Our kids have been fantastic,” West De Pere athletic director Scott Eggart said. “If you were at our game on Friday night, our social distancing with the kids is painfully obvious. You can see we are doing a great job. The kids are doing a fantastic job of social distancing. In our school building every single day, we are doing a fantastic job. Our numbers are low. Our school is doing really well.
“The problem is Brown County. Brown County’s numbers are ridiculous because the community is not making good choices. We need the community to get moving in the right direction, so we can get these kids back in school.”
With three games off the schedule, West De Pere could be down to just four contests in what was supposed to be a seven-game regular season.
Like Notre Dame, the program has the option to push the season to the spring, although such a move doesn’t appear to be something West De Pere wants to do.
Of course, things seem to change every day for athletic directors and athletic programs. There is no way to know which schools could still be playing in three weeks or what a schedule might look like.
“Right now, I’m focused on us being back in school on Oct. 19,” Eggart said. “We will have enough practices to play the game that week, and then we get rolling right along. But we are only as good as Brown County is.
“You don’t know if something happens, it could happen quickly. It could be done by the time you get to them. You are just trying to take it day by day. In a way, you have to be patient and ready to work on the fly.”
Eggart was happy with how everything went at the first home game. The band was spread out in the bleachers and wearing masks when not performing. The players were spread out during warmups and wearing masks on the sideline. The fans were wearing masks.
Yes, West De Pere coach Chris Greisen’s mask at times was around his neck instead of on his face, but he won’t be fined like an NFL coach.
“If you’ve ever met Chris, he’s a soft-spoken person,” Eggart said. “He doesn’t have that voice that carries, so he takes it off to holler out to the kids. He does a pretty good job, and it’s something we are always talking about. Things like that.
“Heat of the moment. If you noticed, sometimes it was like, ‘Oops,’ and then grab it.”