KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It has all the feel of football in the fall at small colleges in the Kansas City area, crisp clear skies during the day or nice calm evening, the sound of the band, and the sound of the announcer, but this isn’t the beginning of September. This is April.
“When they drop the schedule saying that we’ve had a two-part season, it was like, we’re not going to be playing in April. But as the season carried on it got more and more evident about us actually playing in the spring. It’s a crazy feeling,” Christian Hopkins, Senior Wide Receiver, said.
He isn’t wrong. At Avila, April 3rd was Senior Day, after the first game was September 12th.
“Well it hasn’t been easy. They’re not with their families all the time, they’re not able to hang out and have fun, we’ve still got a global pandemic they’ve got to worry about and make sure we’re doing our part,” Marc Benavidez, Avila’s football coach, said.
The Eagles have had four postponements and a cancellation. They’ve done COVID testing since the summer, and practiced in November.
“We had a practice where there was snow outside, two inches of snow, 7 in the morning and its all worth it, make sure we get these seniors in a position to go out on top,” Benavidez said.
While Avila was dealing with Senior Day, William Jewell was dealing with its first game. Mike McGlinchey was hired in January 2020. He took charge of his first game more than a year later in April of 2021.
“I’m not insane, right now, so, I think we all came out of it okay. The tenacity of our players to stick with it, to be flexible, our coaching staff, has been amazing,” McGlinchey said.
“After like the last 500 days since the last game I played till yesterday, I think we made huge strides,” Will Schneider, William Jewell Quarterback, said.
To keep the team involved, the senior captains like Schneider made sure players were sending in proof they were working out while not a campus in anticipation of the three-game season.
“Obviously, when we saw 3 games, we were looking for 3 wins, that’s the mindset,” McGlinchey said.
“It’s in the Spring, but we’re treating it just like any opening game that it would be like if it was in the fall. So, we’ve done a really good job of staying focus, knowing there’s going to be adversity and things that are different, but they can’t matter to us,” Schneider said.
So for small college football programs in the area and really across the country, the awkward schedule, the longest wait ever for a season, its all worth it, simply because they love the game.
“You like to coach football, you like to watch the players play football, so this is probably going to play the best year of my life,” McGlinchey said.
“Very very proud knowing what some of the guys had to go through. From a social standpoint, pandemic going on, academics, everything, it’s something we’re proud of,” Benavidez said.
“I love my teammates, my coaches, the faculty, the staff, the trainers, I’ve been here 5 years and it’s been a great time,” Devin Senerius, Avila wide receiver, said.