'Every night is senior night': Southern Boone adjusting to the pandemic
ASHLAND - It's Thursday morning. Head football coach Trent Tracy gets to Southern Boone High School to turn on the lights, play some music and get ready for the last practice before Friday's game.
The point of these early morning practices is to take advantage of how productive his players are before the sun comes up, Tracy said.
"It gives us a chance to have a productive practice in the morning and get some rest before Friday night," Tracy said. "Even myself, my family and I go out to dinner on Thursday's with the time off."
As the players take the field Friday night, 15 numbers fill the back fence on the side of the field, each number representing a senior on this 2020 Eagle team.
"We've been playing together since we were in third grade," Caleb Perkins, Southern Boone senior offensive and defensive lineman said.
There's a feeling in the locker room that is different than years past.
"We've all bonded really well," Chase Schupp, Southern Boone senior quarterback said. "[Past senior classes] haven't been as tight-knit as this group."
Coming into this season, it wasn't even 100 percent that the Eagles would play football, but the high school season began without any problems. It wasn't until this week that Southern Boone felt the effects closer to home.
"We had three guys get sent home for 14 days because they were in the same classroom as a kid [that tested positive for COVID-19]," Schupp said. "I'm just lucky I wasn't in that class."
"I don't know, all I can think of is just 'crazy'," Perkins said. "We're all just shocked that this happened to us. We heard about all the cases everywhere else, we just didn't think it could happen to us."
Not to say that this hasn't crossed Schupp's mind before. His mom tested positive for COVID-19 three weeks before the football season began, threatening to sideline him for the opening weeks of the 2020 season.
"We had to quarantine for two weeks," Schupp said. "Then the health department cleared us and thankfully I was able to play week one."
It's a scenario we've seen all over not only Mid-Missouri, but the United States as well. Schedule changes have been constant amid the pandemic. The Eagles had to change opponents last week after Versailles canceled due to a positive COVID-19 case within the team.
These kinds of issues are bound to happen, but the emphasis on staying in the moment and cherishing the time on the field became a strong message from coaches to players, Tracy said.
"We really just try to stress to them that even probably more this year because of the uncertainties that you go through each week, that you know, you got to have fun with this," Tracy said. "You also have to cherish every moment because you never know when the moments are going to go away."
A message that focuses on the heart of this team, and the legacy it will leave at the end of the year.
"Most people say legacies are wins and losses, and obviously we want to win more games than we lose, but at the end of the day records fade," Tracy said. "The impact and the legacy that you leave will never go away. As for that legacy, we'll just have to wait and see what the rest of the season holds for this senior class."
KOMU 8's Week Five Friday Night Fever coverage continues as Eldon takes on Southern Boone in our Game of the Week.