COLUMBIA, Ill. — In a season where there’s no postseason, high school football teams across the Metro East are still playing through rivalries, and laying it all on the line every Friday night under the lights.
This Friday, Columbia High School will host Freeburg in what both teams are calling the rivalry game of the abbreviated spring season.
The Freeburg Midgets head into the game undefeated through three weeks of play.
While most teams participating in the alternate spring season have experienced a decrease in participation, Freeburg head football coach Ronnie Stuart said it’s been quite the opposite experience for the Midgets.
“Most kids got to play their baseball, their volleyball, their basketball,” Stuart said. “They got to that whether they were going out of state, or whatever. But with football you can’t do that. And now they get to play. So I think that just goes back to a great group of kids we have right now in our program, and like I said, that’s what’s made it so successful so far.”
Seniors Griffin Range and Lucas Stone are two of those upperclassmen who have made a big difference in the turnout of each Freeburg game.
Stuart added that the sophomore class is smaller than size, but that depth is key in a year like 2021 where teams had far less time to physically prepare while abiding by guidelines in the midst of a pandemic.
Columbia head football coach Scott Hoerner said the Eagles have also experienced an increase in participation this season.
While there’s no postseason for Illinois teams in 2021, Hoerner said his players are still excited to take the field every Friday night against a rival who’s undefeated.
“And so, that’s motivation in itself,” Hoerner said. “You know it’s kind of like any other rivalry game. It’s yearly bragging rights. And yeah, we’re not necessarily playing for a spot in the playoffs, but we are playing in a game against Freeburg. And that’s all the motivation our kids will need.”
Kickoff is at Columbia High School at 7 p.m.