By Jordan Boitnott
Due to COVID-19, the Missouri Valley Football Conference has decided to push all eight conference games back to Spring 2021. They plan to have the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs after the eight-game season.
According to ESPN, the Mid-American Conference, the Ohio Valley Conference and the Northeast Conference have all postponed their seasons, making the outlook for fall play uncertain. Despite conference games being postponed, Youngstown State is still slated to play two non-conference games before the spring. As of now, the team will play two games, the first on Sept. 12 against Duquesne and Eastern Kentucky on Sept 19.
In a statement released by Youngstown State University Sports Information President Jim Tressel – who also serves as chair of the MVFC President’s Council – said the MVFC is doing everything it can to listen to coaches and players.
“Without question, the most important part of our decision-making process was listening to our student-athletes and hearing their feelings. What we clearly heard was that they want to play this year for a chance to participate in the FCS Playoffs,” he said. “It’s great to know that they believe we are taking all the steps necessary to keep them safe in the process. All 11 MVFC teams weighed in with their positions on the options we considered, and all thoughts and concerns guided our thinking.”
YSU junior defensive lineman Antoine Cook said in order to keep players safe, the football team has taken multiple precautions.
“The team has been following safety protocols like being six feet apart and sanitizing more often. We also have been watching what we do off the field,” he said. “Lifting and practice have been the same as usual, just now we have to wear face shields. All of the equipment has also been getting sprayed and cleaned more often.”
Cook said all of his fellow teammates want to take the field, but for now they are trying to stay positive.
“Right now, I’m not depressed at all or anything. I’ve been being with my teammates more, speaking with my family more often and worrying about my schoolwork,” he said.
The extended offseason could be beneficial for the team.
“It is giving us more time to get into the playbook, which helps since we have a new coaching staff, while being able to focus more on important things off the field,” Cook said.
If the season commences, Cook wants fans to expect a great performance from this year’s football team.
“I don’t want to say we are going to be good. I just want to show it. I believe we can be as good as we can be, and the sky’s the limit. Right now, we need to be together and focus on the small things to be as good as we can be,” Cook said.