Football team preparing for unconventional season

by Justin DeStaso and Ryan LeBlanc

When COVID-19 struck back in March, spring sports were cut short. This left a sour taste in people’s mouths about fall sports, and whether or not they would happen. After a lot of consideration, the NJSIAA came out with guidelines to allow fall sports to happen. The NJSIAA ruled that New Jersey high school football teams will play a six-game season between Oct. 2 and Nov. 7. The Glen Rock High School football team began preparation for the 2020 season on Sept. 14.

Before fall started the team went through an unconventional summer training schedule, one that was never seen before. They went through three phases as presented by the NJSIAA, and couldn’t even pick up a football until the third one. 

“This was obviously tough, not being able to even use a football at practice, but the team came together great even during these weird times, and we made the most of what we were granted by the NJSIAA,” said senior Tommy Callahan.

Glen Rock’s head coach, Jim Kurz, had to adapt to this new “COVID-19” season. During these unprecedented times, Coach Kurz addressed his team with this message., 

“It is going to be different, but we are going to find a way,” Kurz said. “That’s what we keep stressing and let’s just be happy that we are in line to play games. All the other stuff we can’t worry about. We are in a great position to compete and play this great game.”

Coach Kurz said all of the seniors showed a tremendous amount of leadership, especially Ty Scherer, Callahan, Danny Crawford, and Ryan Burstiner. Glen Rock Football’s goals were changed for the 2020 season. 

“Our goal was usually one day at a time, this year we’re taking more of a one second at a time because things are literally changing by the second,” Kurz said. “You can’t look too far ahead and any bumps on the road we have to handle and find a way to get through them.”

Overall, Coach Kurz is proud of his team for finding a way through the 2020 season and is confident in his group to perform well. 

From a player’s perspective, the new season was a tough pill to swallow, especially since expectations were so high coming into this season. Led by Scherer at quarterback, Callahan at wide receiver, and junior Andrew Sara at running back, the Panthers were poised to make a Metlife run this year. Callahan said hearing the changes to the season was difficult.   

“Ever since I was a freshman in this program, it was a dream of mine to play in the State Championship at Metlife Stadium,” Callahan said. “I was devastated when I found out that wouldn’t be happening this year, especially since I think we would’ve been able to make a huge run.” 

The last time Glen Rock was in the state championship was 2015 when the Panthers lost to Mahwah 35-7. Despite these changes, the team is fortunate to be having a season altogether, especially for the seniors. 

“These past three years of high school, I’ve been up in the stands watching every football game, and it just made me realize how badly I wanted to play this sport,” first-year senior Jack Strawhorn said. “When COVID hit, there were nights I lay awake, thinking if I was even going to play a snap of high school football, after all the hard work I’ve put in. When I heard the news of the season being on, I was ecstatic, and I realized right there how memorable I wanted to make my first and last season playing football.”

Coach Kurz is ready to make the most of this season. 

“When you can fight through adversity and stay together, we will look back with fond memories, and whatever happens on the field or with our record, the fact that we are where we are, and we were able to get to this point, speaks volumes about our team,” Kurz said.