First day

Maryville seniors Connor Weiss, left, and Dylan White lead the Spoofhounds to the practice field on Monday for the first day of practice. 

MARYVILLE, Mo. — The Spoofhound football team finally felt a bit of a return to normalcy on Monday afternoon with the start of fall practice.

And it felt good to be back.

Linemen were learning their steps and punishing the blocking sleds. Senior quarterback Ben Walker was showing of his deep passes. Senior Trey Houchin hauled in a couple of those passes with one hand. Senior Connor Weiss was sprinting upfield with the ball held high and tight.

Football is back, and for the kids taking the field, it was a tremendous relief.

“It is good to get back out here with the boys and put in the work that we get to put in,” Weiss said. “And we just hope and pray that we get to play the rest of the season.”

Of course, not everything was the exact same and things will take some getting used to.

At one point during practice, Walker had his mask completely off while playing which provided a moment for the coaching staff to explain the rules that whenever you are on the field, your mask needs to be on your person. When you are in the game, it can be down so you can play and communicate more effectively, but you need to have it at all times and it needs to be over your mouth and nose when you aren't in the game.

The masks gave the players an opportunity to be a bit creative too. Webb opted for Spoofhound gaiter that the Spoofhound Booster Club is selling — except for the instances where he'd double up by flipping up the hood of the sweatshirt he had on backwards. Weiss, a senior running back and defensive back, broke one out with the face of a lion on it.

Webb gathered the players in smaller than usual groups and talked about the importance of following the safety guidelines that the school, the conference and the state mandate so they can have their season.

“Since March 13, our entire world has been told what we can't do,” Webb said. “... Think of all the things you can't do. What we get the opportunity today is to do something we can do. What we can do is practice football, start developing a team and start developing that camaraderie. All those 'can'ts' but this is one we can do.”

After missing some of the normal workouts and camps that the team would normally attend in the offseason, Webb was relieved to finally have his team back on the field.

“Obviously the first day of practice is fun every year because you are approaching the season,” Webb said. “You are approaching games and competition is why we do this. We are just really excited to be out here. Obviously these times are a little different with the COVID situation, but you really count your blessings and you are thankful for every opportunity to practice football.”

The players have had a long time to stew on last season's shocking loss in the district championship game against Lathrop too and they are ready to strap the pads back on.

“It is definitely a lot more fuel because we have that chip on our shoulder from last year being knocked out early,” Weiss said. “A lot of the returning guys who have played, we know what that feels like and we know how we have to overcome that and push to be the greatest team that we can be and show the underclassmen how Spoofhound football rolls.”

It it just the first important date on a long journey until a state champion is decided, but the fall sports teams have reached the first milestone. And it feels good to be back.

“It definitely means more with every practice day we get because you don't know when somebody is going to take it away from you,” Weiss said. “With all this COVID stuff, it is surprising that we still can have practices. It is a blessing to be able to play.”

Let the countdown to Week One and Blair Oaks begin.