By Kevin Barry
Hammond High football has hit the ground running, starting their season as soon as they could due to previous delays. With the absence of playoffs and a championship, players are eager to show their skills in the little allotted playing time that is available this year.
Hammond’s senior starting quarterback and team captain Eric Grinwis gave his own insight on the start of the season, saying “so far everything has gone well; in my opinion, we are probably the best team altogether to come through Hammond.”
The preparation for this season has been heavily delayed. Football is one of the hardest sports to play during COVID, as Coach Bell, the varsity football coach, explained. “We did not have any preparation leading into the season besides virtual meetings. COVID protocols impact football more than any other sport. It was difficult to prepare for games in restricted pods of 25. Our players and staff did a great job making the most out of these early protocols until restrictions were lifted.”
With the exciting multiple spread offense, half as many games, and no playoffs this year we can expect “growth throughout each week… and on game days we perform,” said Grinwis. As for the defensive side, the team runs a 3-4, relying on the defensive backs and linebackers to make plays in the secondary. “We are looking to rotate a lot more players this week,” said Coach Bell after the first game. “Our biggest takeaway from our first game was neither team was prepared to play four full quarters.”
This lack of readiness stems from the lack of a preseason and training. This is just one of the many effects that COVID had on the team. Coach Bell expanded on this idea, saying “You can’t see faces, expressions, and smiles. We must also follow social distancing guidelines.” Although the season hasn’t been regular or normal, Grinwis explained the team is “grateful to Lerner for helping us have a season.”
The shortened season has also had an effect on seniors getting offers. “Seniors missed out on an entire year of recruiting along with camps and college visits” explained Coach Bell “Recruiters focused on other surrounding states that played this fall because a college wants to recruit from what is most recent.” With no playoffs or Championship, less players are getting offers which means less Hammonds alumni will get to ball out at the next level.
Despite everything, the team has stayed together through their “tight bond with each other” said Grinwis. “I’d be happy to take the blame and shoulder everything for my team, but I always expect the most from them. I hold them to higher standards… You could say I’m like an on the field coach.”
The goals for the future as stated by the coach are to “have a fun competitive season. We want to play as many games as possible in the time frame that is allowed… At the same time, we are building our underclassmen through this spring season for the upcoming fall.” The remainder of the season looks promising as Coach Bell emphasized the achievements of the team, saying “We are seeing progress each day.”
Stick around for a gallery of our football team: