YORKVILLE – Luke Davies on Wednesday strapped on a football helmet for the first time since last summer.
It was a rush.
So much has happened for Davies, Yorkville’s senior quarterback, and every other football player and coach around Illinois since then. Fall season was postponed to spring. At several points, any semblance of a football season seemed uncertain amid COVID-19 restrictions.
But Davies, who missed all of his junior season after medial patellofemoral ligament reconstruction surgery on his knee, always kept the faith. It was rewarded with Wednesday’s first day of spring football practice.
“It was just really stinking fun to get back out there with everybody working hard,” Davies said. “We have a great group of seniors, we were all working out and lifting that whole time when it was up in the air, acting like it was going to happen. Super stoked that it is.”
While some teams took advantage of the mild temperatures to get outside Wednesday, Yorkville is holding its first two days of practice inside at the Go For It Sports Complex. Foxes’ coach Dan McGuire said it was a best-case scenario to start in a controlled environment, and was pleased to see 60 kids out for the varsity the first day.
“Usually we’re in the high 50s or low 60s,” McGuire said. “To have that many kids here speaks to our community and our kids.”
Practice was different, and not just because it was indoors.
McGuire and his coaching staff emphasized for players to stay spaced out. Quarterbacks couldn’t stay close together, and the offense was kept separate from the defense.
But McGuire believes his team is in a good spot, with two weeks until March 19′s season opener at Plainfield Central. The Foxes essentially had a camp in spring with contact days, and met for mornings in the last month for workouts before school.
“The biggest thing is reminding kids on formations, carrying cadence, trying to fit who fits where because these kids haven’t played in a long time,” McGuire said.
Indeed, Yorkville’s last game was its second-round Class 7A playoff loss in November 2019 at Willowbrook. Given all that has transpired since then, the last 16 months probably felt like an eternity to guys like senior fullback/linebacker Will Schumacher.
“I was honestly at a point where I thought my last year of high school playing football was going to be my junior year,” Schumacher said. “I thought the Willowbrook game was going to be my last game. Nobody wants to go out like that.”
Schumacher sure doesn’t.
He committed to Division II Saint Anselm College in New Hampshire last August, but didn’t for a second consider not coming out for football this fall.
“I want to get out there and compete,” Schumacher said. “A full year of just training, I’m like a lion trapped in a cage. I want to get out there. I’m wrestling this year as well.”
Yorkville’s program has re-established itself with back-to-back 8-3 seasons, and 2019 was perhaps even more validation in the Foxes’ first season in the Southwest Prairie Conference. While Yorkville has graduated a couple stellar senior classes that are difficult to replace, McGuire’s likes this group’s leaders and its depth.
“The whole unknown is how they’ll respond when the lights are on,” McGuire said.
Davies, who McGuire has said could be one of the best quarterbacks he’s had at Yorkville, looks forward to it. He already has a handful of scholarship offers, the most recent from NAIA Briar Cliff University, and has also been talking to Wisconsin-Eau Claire lately.
He’s looking at the spring to showcase his skills since he missed his junior season. Wednesday was a step toward that.
“It’s one of the better days of the year, for sure,” Davies said. “A lot of guys are looking forward to that Plainfield Central game.”
Source: The Daily Chronicle