Newport County football players hand over shoulder pads for shin guards

Local high school football players certainly felt the pain when their sport was postponed. And the promise of a season starting in March seems oddly familiar to many of these players.

Portsmouth junior Tom McGraw believed he would be playing high school baseball last spring. The team trained and prepared for the regular season, they were told they would have to wait awhile to see if the season could start a few weeks later than expected and then finally learned that the season was canceled.

McGraw knew everyone was doing their best to make spring sports happen and COVID-19 was to blame. But it still hurts. And now, for the second season in a row, a philosophical McGraw feels cheated once again.

“All athletes, regardless of level and sport, take nothing for granted,” said McGraw. “Play each piece as if it’s your last piece, because it can be taken away from you in an instant. “

All sports were canceled in the spring, but women’s soccer and volleyball are the only victims in the fall. Both sports have a chance to be played in five months, but some of those who missed the opportunity to play their favorite fall sport have chosen to try a different one.

Middletown senior Patrick Andrade, Islanders junior Jay Botelho, Rogers senior Will Farley and Portsmouth juniors Andrew Perry and McGraw – all of whom played football last season – are now members of the their school.

“I miss football a lot. This is my last year, ”said Andrade. “I also miss the kids I played with and the relationships I had with them.

“I missed baseball in the spring and haven’t played soccer for four years. It was getting pretty boring to sit at home. I want to stay in shape for other sports and keep running as much as I can. Football was my only choice.

Linebacker and goalkeeper Botelho lost his chance to play lacrosse in the spring and was eager for the football to begin.

“All summer I went through football training in the captain’s training,” Botelho said. “Then I learned that there would be no football this fall. The offseason has been far too long.

“I knew I would have extra time and I played soccer before. I like the chance to come out and throw the ball back. But it was weird to come in the summer and get into soccer instead of soccer.

Farley was a rare doubles sport athlete in the fall. He played soccer and kicked the soccer team in his sophomore year. Last year he only played football and this year he was playing with the return to double duty.

“I took away from football and focused on football last year and don’t regret my decision,” Farley said. “I grew up in football a lot. This season, I was thinking of doing both again.

“I was really disappointed when football wasn’t allowed to play, but I knew I would play football. If I couldn’t play football, I would go cross country. I knew I would be able to play something.

The move to football was natural for Perry, the Portsmouth kicker.

“I’ve played soccer my whole life,” said Perry. “I played on the college team and with the city and club soccer teams. I just chose football when I got to high school because my brother [Connor] play. It is not very difficult to resume football.

All athletes have played soccer at some point in their young lives. Some took it more seriously than others and competed at higher levels. They all know the sport, but the move from the grill to the field always brings change.

McGraw, who was named a forward and goalie, never played high school soccer.

“Football is definitely a lot more conditioned,” said McGraw. “Not being able to use your hands is definitely a big difference. I have a lot of things to work on. I think they put me in the positions they did because those are the two positions where you use the least foot skills.

“There is more racing in soccer, but it’s very different,” said Andrade. “There are no wear pads. And sometimes you’re standing and other times you’re sprinting. In football, it’s every time.

Botelho saw familiar faces on the Middletown football team as he played with and against his friends until eighth grade. He chose to play football instead of soccer when he entered high school and continued in the sport last season. Now he’s catching up on the pitch.

“Football has been a lot of racing and a lot more scrum. I’m definitely rusty, but running feels good, ”said Botelho.

Perry falls into a familiar groove on the football field as he quickly becomes familiar with the sport. He said he would definitely play football in March if that actually happens, but is unsure what he will do next fall if he has the choice of playing football or soccer.

“[COVID-19] made that decision pretty easy, ”Perry said. ” I like to play football. I always thought of changing. I have to see if I want to start over next year or play football. I have to see how this season is going. It’s good to keep your options open.

McGraw left no doubt about his allegiance.

“I’ve always liked to stay active, I’m thirsty for competition and wanted to do something,” said McGraw. “I still do team lifting with football when I don’t play football. I train as much as I can. I play soccer, but still focus on soccer.

“I miss it a lot. We reached the championship last year. We have prepared a lot for this year. We thought we could make some noise. It was really disappointing to have it removed. It stings a bit but I’m going to take a bad opportunity.

The state’s soccer players would love the chance to play a 10-week season starting in March, but know they will have to wait and see how much coronavirus still has a hold on Rhode Island.

Farley, now a senior, is one of them.

He didn’t step on a football field until he was in his second year in high school. The chance to replay is uncertain at best. Hitting a winning basket for the Vikings would be a great way to end his short career.

“I don’t consider myself to be a football player. I fell in love with the kicks, ”said Farley. “I would love to play one more football game, just one more game at Toppa. Nothing beats those Friday night lights.

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Rogers Senator Will Farley has played both football and soccer in his second season, so the transition from the transition to soccer this year will be smooth.

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