Moore set for Seymour football debut


Seymour’s Friday night season-opening football game hosting South Dearborn will be a special occasion for many reasons.

This is new head coach Tyson Moore’s debut as a team leader. The Owls have negotiated a hard road to Day 1 by practicing under complex conditions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Also, as a new twist, instead of waiting to the final home game of the season, it will be Senior Night.

The first game for any head coach embarking on a career is always a milestone, but Moore, 28, walked into once-in-a-lifetime circumstances because of the coronavirus that has afflicted approximately 22 million people worldwide and killed nearly 800,000 people.

Operating under tight protocols advised by the Indiana High School Athletic Association since early July and learning as he dictated practices, Moore, previously a Seymour assistant who replaces Mike Kelly (14-16 in three seasons), recognizes the uniqueness of the situation.

“I think I could coach for 100 years and I don’t think we would have it again,” Moore said.

In a sport that emphasizes togetherness and often produces hugs or high fives after big plays, the Owls have had to get used to social distancing and had a nearly constant fear they would wake up and be placed in quarantine or like so many other states have their fall season delayed.

Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m., also unusual in that it is the only game scheduled all season that does not begin at 7 p.m. Originally, the opener was supposed to be played at South Dearborn, but that school’s field is undergoing work.

“Two months ago, we didn’t know if we would have this,” Moore said. “It’s going to be a relief to everyone. It’s going to be one week at a time right now. It’s, ‘Hey, we made it.'”

This is a seasoned team with nearly 30 seniors on the roster and one that is aching to play. This is especially true since anyone who intended to compete in spring sports lost out on participation when school was shut down and the complete high school season was canceled.

“I missed my track season,” Eli Abner said after practice earlier this week. “I’ve been wanting to get back into sports a lot. I’m getting more excited every day. It’s the best sport in the world.”

One reason why players are so devoted to football is the contact, the hitting. They love the blocking and tackling, which is at the core of the game even if in these perilous times that very contact is what has some players, fans and observers of the game at all levels concerned about competition with the virus so pervasive.

Senior Josh Pennington, who is a part-timer when it comes to carrying the ball but played running back when he was younger, is a convert to cornerback in position and spirit.

“I love playing corner,” he said. “You get in on big hits.”

Most college football has been postponed from fall to spring. Many states have put off high school football. Except for the National Football League with the Indianapolis Colts starting in mid-September if all goes well, high school football may be the only game not only in town but in the region.

“You can’t take it for granted,” Abner said.

Quarterback Cody Ruble said one thing that makes this Owls group special is that probably 20 seniors have played together since sixth grade. He and Pennington both called it “a brotherhood.”

The virus’ unpredictability was often on players’ minds, but they were able to put the issue aside when running drills or conditioning. Moore said it was good for them to have “some normalcy.” Moore also has been impressed by how the seniors have demonstrated responsibility and leadership for the team during this crisis era.

“I’m glad we get to enjoy football,” Ruble said. “We’re lucky to be out here.”

The Senior Night switch is one new thing with no virus connection. Moore said he discussed the idea with Kelly long before COVID-19 became part of the lexicon.

Before Friday’s kickoff, seniors will be accompanied on the field by parents for recognition, even though Bulleit Stadium cannot contain more than 250 home-side fans and 250 visitor-side fans as a safety precaution.

“It’s actually becoming more prevalent,” Moore said of schools taking that approach. “The virus wasn’t the reason, but now it’s even better (the Owls are doing it early in the season). I don’t know how to explain how excited I am.”

No posts to display