Friday night football is coming back to LeRoy
Published 6:02 pm Saturday, August 20, 2016
LEROY — There’s a new sense of hope and energy in the air at LeRoy-Ostrander High School as the Cardinals are bringing back varsity football after a one year hiatus.
The Cardinals weren’t forced to cancel their varsity season last year, but they felt it was best for their program to just have a JV team last year. The Cardinals had a larger group of young players, who weren’t quite ready to compete at the varsity level and now those players are sophomores and juniors and they’re ready to play on Friday nights instead of Monday nights — which is when LO played its JV contests last year.
“I’m very excited and the town’s very excited too,” LO football player Sean Lohuis said. “We’re excited to have varsity football back in LeRoy. It was tough to take a year off, but we have better chemistry together now.”
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The Cardinals tried to keep everything as normal as possible last season with their practice routines and pre-game activities. But it was hard for the community and players not to take notice that the football field was vacant on Friday nights. LO head coach Aaron Hungerholt said the team got a little anxious, but they all understood the need for waiting a year to play at the varsity level.
Now that one year wait has paid off.
“They’ve been in the weight room and you can tell some of them have gotten a lot bigger and stronger. They’re a year older and they’ve matured a bit,” Hungerholt said. “They get along together well and they’re chomping at the bit to get back out there and start playing on Friday night’s again. They want to get the town behind them and start turning our program around.”
LO football player Jackson Hawkins understood why the team didn’t play last year, and he’s thrilled to get a chance to play this season.
“It was probably safer to play JV last year, so kids didn’t get hurt,” he said. “I’m very excited about playing. I hope we have bigger crowds this year.”
The Cardinals had some success at the JV level last fall and that has motivated them to push towards finding success this fall. Playing JV was certainly better than having a varsity team that struggled with wins and injuries.
“It helped us playing JV last year because we were able to learn the plays better,” LO football player Zach Hanson said. “We also had to work hard in the offseason to get better and ready for varsity football.”
LO football player Trevor Kelly said the team is closer now and it’s ready to play hard together.
“It was good training for the younger guys and now we work better together than we had in the past few years. We plan on having a good next two years,” he said.
This particular group of LO athletes had always had to play a level up in sports while growing up and Hungerholt felt it was a big advantage for them being able to play at their own level for a season.
“The transition has been fine. I think the boys are excited and they understood what we did last year,” Hungerholt said. “We had some success letting those guys play at their now level for once.”
The Cardinals will open their season at Mabel-Canton 7 p.m. Sept. 2. LO will host its first home game in two years when it plays West Lutheran 7 p.m. Sept. 9.