Monroe, the lone interior football team active, set to visit Valdez Saturday
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) -
Interior, Alaska has not seen high school football action since August 22, when all five teams in the area were active for week one of the season. Subsequently, a player involved in one of those games tested positive for COVID-19, while players from other football teams in the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District exhibited symptoms of the disease, cancelling all games for week two.
Before teams were able to hit the field for week three, the school district transitioned into the high-risk, or red zone on August 31, ceasing all sports competitions.
Since then, teams have continued to practice under stricter protocols and guidelines set by the Alaska School Activities Association (ASAA), the regulating body for high school interscholastic activities in the state.
Monroe Catholic, a private school that operates outside of the Fairbanks district, is set to visit Valdez High School at noon on Saturday as the lone interior football team competing.
Since the stoppage of play, Monroe has been making the most of practice among themselves, similar to other schools in the area.
“The kids have had high spirits this whole time," said Monroe football head coach Kyle Allison. "It is a tough time for everyone, but at least we get to practice, at least we have the opportunity to play a game, when there are a lot of high school students and players that don’t even have the chance to step on the field, so I am just trying to make them understand how grateful it is to be able to do what they’re doing.”
The Rams departed for Valdez Friday on a bus much larger than they would typically take on a road trip.
“You wouldn’t normally have a 55 passenger bus for 22 people, but we are going to do what we have to do to provide that opportunity for our kids and do it as safely as we absolutely can.” mentioned Monroe Activities Coordinator Frank Ostanik earlier this week.
This will be the Rams' second contest of the season and first since August 22, when they hosted Valdez in a 36-0 victory at Kiwanis Field in Fairbanks. Quarterback Shaun Conwell accounted for four touchdowns in the win, tossing three through the air and scoring one on the ground.
“We just want to make sure that we are a better team than we were the first time and that any mistakes have been corrected,” said Allison. “We just want to see that growth and maturity from players going forward."
As Monroe continues its season of uncertainty, Allison shared a perspective to his team about not taking anything for granted.
“That is a powerful message. It is kind of ironic being 9/11 today and remembering that. I was in high school when 9/11 happened and going into that following weekend wondering if we are going to play or not going to play, I just remember time just kind of stood still for a couple days there," he said. "It was just a weird feel to it, it was probably my first time ever understanding of how easily things can be taken away without your control.
"That is kind of the situation now for everybody that is going through it. It is not in your hands anymore but all you can do is keep pushing and keep your spirits high and be like, ‘hey we are going to play a game, we are going to play a game,’ and if not, we are going to be ready if it happens.”
Monroe and Valdez will kick off at 12 p.m. AKDT Saturday in Valdez.
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