Football season on despite controversy

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Photo used with permission from Wootton Athletics

The football team practices plays in the parking lot on Mar. 1.

The school’s football team began practices on Feb. 29. MCPS requires 20 days of practice before official gameplay can begin.

The MCPS Board of Education originally voted not to continue with the plan to play games this spring for football. Football, along with cheer and poms, were deemed high risk activities.

The ruling sparked fire within the MCPS community, including a rally at the Stella Warner Council Office building in Rockville on the morning of Mar. 14. Students, coaches and parents chanted “Let us play” in unison, showing their support for the athletes.

The rally turned out to be successful as the MCPS board re-evaluated their decision and changed the ruling. The school scrimmaged Rockville at home on Mar. 26 with the JV game first and the varsity game after. JV won 7-0 and varsity tied 0-0. “We played really good defense and it was fun to be back on the field,” sophomore Max Mirsky said.

This year’s team has a completely new coaching staff. Head Coach Ivan Hicks looks to lead the team to a successful season. “I really like Coach Hicks and the practices have been great so far,” Mirsky said.

The first week of practice consisted of one-hour sessions after school from 3:30 to 4:30, and was extended to 5 p.m. following the first week. “We are able to fit a lot of drills into each and every practice,” junior tight end Justin McGraw said.

McGraw looks to build off of a great sophomore season and continue to develop his skills. McGraw had over 400 receiving yards and two touchdowns in 2019. “I am excited to start playing games,” McGraw said.

Junior wide receiver Jack Mehler is looking to build off of the breakout season he had as a sophomore. He began last season on JV, but was pulled up to varsity and worked his way into the starting lineup. Mehler started football as a sophomore, later than most of his teammates, but was a quick learner and improved tremendously in his first year.

The first day of practice was focused on teaching us the protocols in place for our safety”

— Jack Mehler

The Covid protocols have been effective in promoting safety for the players and coaches. Players fill out a daily form checking off for any potential Covid symptoms as well as wearing masks and social distance for the duration of practice. “The first day of practice was focused on teaching us the protocols in place for our safety,” Mehler said.

These athletes had an extra long off-season, giving them more time to get ready. “We are very fortunate to have this season and I know we are ready,” Mehler said.

The Patriots will take on Gaithersburg on Apr. 9 and look for their first win of the season.