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Players begin to turn the page

Morning Journal/Ron Firth Lisbon’s Haiden Colvin (right) helps Wellsville’s Isaiah Greathouse with his helmet during the cover photo shoot at War Memorial Stadium.

The Leetonia Bears dreaded Friday nights last August.

“It was terrible,” senior lineman L.J. Rosa said. “We’d get called to the locker room and they’d say, ‘You guys have to go home.'”

The coronavirus pandemic forced the cancellation of several contests, some on game day, and changed the game.

“It was OK. It was just a watered-down version of football,” Columbiana senior lineman Luke Booth said. “This COVID thing seems like it’s gone. Football is football now.”

Leetonia didn’t play until the fourth week on Sept. 10. The first two games were called off due to COVID-19 and the third because Southington did not field a team.

Rosa said Sept. 10 came around the football team was called to the office.

“I thought we were all in trouble for something,” he said.

“We were all getting upset and everything. Then they said, ‘We’ve got bad news, guys, we’re playing tonight.’ We just all started cheering. We were so happy.”

It wasn’t all roses for the teams that played, either, especially with players not allowed to take showers and having to wear masks on the bus.

“It was terrible,” East Palestine senior slotback Devin Lee said. “A mixture of all the smells from the players and not being able to breath through that mask, it was rough. All the windows were going down.”

The Centers for Disease Control recently dropped its social distancing and quarantine requirements.

“I get why we had to do it, but being a teenager in high school, it’s annoying frustrating and it’s frustrating because it stopped us from playing a couple of games,” United senior receiver Grant Knight said.

“COVID is definitely out of the picture and that’s great for us because COVID took us over last year,” Rosa said.

Maybe this fall we will be able to go to a high school football game and not worry about anything else.

“It feels like everything is going back to normal,” Knight said. “Not just high school football, but in the world, it’s getting back to normal.”

Game notes

¯ Lisbon senior running back Haiden Colvin couldn’t wait to play on the Blue Devils’ new turf field. He went by War Memorial Stadium often to see the progress.

“Every chance I got,” he said. “It looks great. I couldn’t ask for a better-looking field. It’s definitely a change, that’s for sure.”

Lisbon will host Windham in the season opener Friday.

“I think it’s pretty nice,” Rosa said. “It’s looks just like our new turf.”

¯ L.J. Rosa said his initials stand for Little Josh, which he obviously got as a youngster.

At 6-foot-5 and 280 pounds, no one calls him that anymore.

“Probably since elementary, he said.

His real name is Josh Antonio Rosa.

¯ Booth is the only current Clipper who has played for head coach Bob Spaite from the seventh grade on.

How did he get through seven years with Spaite?

“Just keep fighting,” Booth said. “You learn to love him or you learn to hate him. You learn to live with him.”

¯ Beaver Local will play at Indian Valley on Friday.

Indian Valley’s football players parked cars and sold 50-50 tickets at Midvale Speedway, located next door to the Braves’ old stadium, during the Firecracker 150 on July 3.

The Braves’ share of the 50-50 was $5,500.

¯ East Palestine has one win in its last 31 games.

“We’re 0-0 in my eyes,” Lee said. “Every season is a new season.”

The Bulldogs host Malvern on Friday.

¯ East Liverpool opens at Minerva on Friday. The Lions have fallen on hard times, going 3-67 the last seven years.

Minerva gave up an average of 54.0 points a game last year. The closest game was a 41-7 loss at United in the opener.

¯ It’s starting to hit the seniors that this is their last season of high school football.

“Being a young guy, you don’t think about your senior year of football,” Knight said. “It’s like it’s never going to show up. It’s never going to happen. And it’s already here.”

“It’s a bittersweet feeling,” Wellsville senior running back Isaiah Greathouse said. “I’m glad to go out there one more time with my boys.”

So is everyone else.

“I’m looking forward to spending the last season with my teammates and playing Columbiana,” Rosa said.

“I’m looking forward to playing everybody for one last time,” Colvin said. “I love playing football. It’s been my favorite sport all throughout life. Getting to play everybody again one last time, making it a good one. “

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