By Jay Simon; The Whetstone
Red shirt junior football player EJ Lee said he was upset that he must wait an entire semester to play.
“Being hurt and waiting to have a full recovery is hard enough,” he said. “Now, after having surgery and doing rehab to come back and play, we aren’t even going to have an actual season.”
Lee, like other football players, coaches, fans, and staff, are upset that there will be no season to watch the Wolverines dominate.
The NJAC, New Jersey Athletic Conference, suspended all fall sport contests and championships for the upcoming 2020 fall semester. It plans to move the season to the spring 2021 semester while allowing practice and training during the fall. https://njacsports.com/news/2020/7/27/football-statement-by-the-new-jersey-athletic-conference-regarding-fall-sports.aspx
Chip Knapp, in only his third season as head coach, said he was disappointed that they could not play a normal fall schedule.
“Like every season, we were looking forward to being together as a team, competing on the field, and playing games during the fall,” he said. “The team’s health and safety are our priority and with all the uncertainty about the virus, it makes sense the season was canceled.”
The Wolverines have dominated the NJAC and have had winning seasons since 2002. During the 2019 season, the Wolverines had a 10-2 winning record and only hoped to do better this season.
Senior Shymere Vessels said he was excited to try to help the team win.
“What I was looking forward to this season is getting the opportunity to know my new teammates and hopefully create that wolverine bond,” he said. “My thoughts for the upcoming season are to be dominant and show why we are the most dominant team in the east coast.”
Senior Dante Daniel said he also was disappointed the Wolverines don’t have a season this fall.
“I’ve been dreaming about what type of team we were going to be after the results of our past season ending in the second round of playoffs,” he said. “I felt, as a captain, that we had a lot of potential to carry over to the next season only if we stayed focus and handled our business during the off season.”
The Wolverines made it into the NCAA playoffs last fall. They won the first-round against Framingham St. 58-21. Their run came to an end during the second-round against Delaware Valley, losing 45-10.
“Game days against Del Val is something that many people don’t want to miss,” Daniel said. “It doesn’t settle well that we can’t get revenge for our playoff lost last season, but it makes me feel very eager to get back on the field. This will only fuel our mentality to work harder and continue to push through adversity until we meet face-to-face on a beautiful Saturday again.”
Knapp also said having the season during spring will be hard.
“As a football team, we are excited to have any chance to play in an official game,” he said. “Having all the sports’ seasons in the spring is going to create some logistical problems. Sharing and scheduling the field are some of the challenges we will face this spring.”
Senior Alexiss Caliborne said she remembers going to her first football game as freshman.
“Going to my first game here was amazing,” she said. “For the past three years I have been to every home game and now since there is no season, I can’t go support the team. There are a lot of athletes that make up Wesley, so for us non-athletes we don’t have anything to do besides sit in our rooms now.”
Junior Kyle Mackall Lloyd said he is upset that he cannot go to any more games this season too.
“It sucks to not be able to see my fellow classmates be able to play in any games this season, especially since they have been working so hard,” he said. “I play lacrosse and that is in the spring so going to watch the football games was something I could do. To possibly have all the fall sports in spring sucks because now I won’t be able to really enjoy atmosphere during their games.”
Knapp said that fall will be there time to prepare with safety being the team’s priority.
“We will focus on getting our team in shape and then move on to more standard football activities with a focus on skill development for our players,” he said. “We will train on the field ‘in place’ and socially-distanced. During the initial phase of our practice we will train in groups of 10 to prevent any potential spread of the virus and to help with contact tracing.”
Senior Abe Mansaray said he is still having trouble getting used to how the new practices are set up.
“Our practices are split up to follow the COVID-19 guidelines,” he said. “We are split in ten groups in the weight room with two people at each rack, and the times are set by position groups, so everyone has different times.
When we go to the field, its split so offense is at one time and defense at a different time. It’s hard getting used to it, but we are doing the best we can.”
Vessels said he has mixed feelings about the season because of what’s going on with the virus.
“Football isn’t the same and I am not able to have the quality time to be with my teammates as years before,” he said. “But to be able to do anything football-related is a blessing no matter what the circumstances are right now. Being a senior and not being able to have a real season is upsetting because of the potential we have. We don’t know when this virus stuff might end so we just must keep working hard and wait it out.”