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Iona Prep adjusts to pandemic football

Posted at 6:59 PM, Oct 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-14 18:59:55-04

NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. — High school football is back in Westchester County... well, sort of.

Teams like Iona Prep aren't allowed to wear any equipment or tackle an opponent.

For Iona Prep's head coach Joe Spagnolo, it's no reason to deter the team's spirit.

"We're excited," Spagnolo said. "We lost six months with the boys when COVID hit in March, we're making up for lost time right now. Great to have the boys around, practicing 3-4 times a week and obviously getting competition in with the 7-on-7."

Iona Prep is fortunate to be doing anything football-related. They're one of just three Westchester schools having a fall season, if you can call it that. No champions will be crowned and their league has now transformed into 7-on-7 touch football.

No one notices the differences more than senior QB Darius Wilson, who doesn't have to elude pass rushers.

"You're not bruised anymore," Wilson said. "There are no more injuries. All you have to do is play."

Senior Will Stone is a little less enthused.

"There is no tackling which destroys the purpose of football," he said. "It's still fun to get out and catch routes. Just happy to play football."

The only position players left out of the equation are linemen and kickers. But Spagnolo says all hope isn't lost for them.

"We're going to have two big man competitions for them, they're in the weight room right now," the coach said. "They are doing some install stuff. They are getting what a normal offseason would look like for us, which is great and we're talking about doing a kicking challenge."

The purpose of the leaguewide competitions for big men and kickers is to help attract recruiters and get their talents to the next level.

For players like Stone, they're confident this fall season is a springboard to "real" football in March.

"I think by then we will definitely have a season," he said. "New Jersey is playing right now. If they're playing right now, we will definitely have a chance in the spring."

Spagnolo says the league has told them they're all set to play.

"I'm confident, the league has already made plans. It's an on going process right now. The world we live in is day-to-day but the plan is in place."