BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — On November 23, 2019, Canisius walked off the field as State Champions. Little did they know, that would be the last time they would take the field together as a team for 16 months.
Next Saturday, the Crusaders will finally strap on the pads in the first game of the shortened 2021 high school football season.
“It’s very exciting. The last time we put the pads on was 2019, so it’s just great to be out here with my guys. We’ve got a really good team so we’re really looking forward to it,” Canisius junior quarterback Tyler Baker said.
“It’s great, it’s a lot of excitement. You can see the smiles on the kids faces, they’re really just excited to be out here and be practicing, which is great as a coach,” Canisius head coach Rich Robbins said. “Usually you’re like ‘hey guys, we’ve got to practice,’ but this year they just seem excited to be together and to be out here playing some football.”
“The last few days of practices has been really high energy, it’s like a dog on a leash, when they get off they’re just ready to run,” Canisius senior running back Joe Dixon said. “It’s just been fun. I’m out here with my new teammates, we got some new transfers and some kids that moved up from JV, so we’re just trying to get rolling like last year. Trying to pick up where we left off.”
Even if they only have five regular season games on the schedule, the mindset it still the same: to win it all.
“You don’t know when you could get paused, so that first game could be your last game. You never know, you just want to take advantage of the situation,” Dixon said. “You don’t want to think like okay, I’ll get it next week, you want to give it all at that point in time.”
“We keep thinking, it’s the last couple games with the seniors, not a full season, can’t really travel, so we’re just trying to make the most of it,” Canisius junior wide receiver Nik McMillan said.
“It motivates us because if we only have five games, that’s five opportunities for college coaches, that’s five opportunities to win some games, and hopefully maybe they’ll let us get a state title out of it, I don’t know, but it motivates us,” Baker said.
“That’s kind of the speech I gave on the first day, this is precious. We didn’t know if this was going to happen. It’s not just the game, it’s every practice, every film session, every weight lifting, you have to really appreciate these times with your teammates and being part of Canisius football,” Robbins said. “For these seniors, they’re going to be graduating in two months and be gone, and it’s never the same. I told them to put the next few months on slow motion and really enjoy every minute of it, because we’re just really lucky to be out here.”
The Crusaders open up the season at St. Francis next Saturday night at 7pm.