By Chris Wilson, Contributing Writer
GRAFTON – Grafton High School’s recently completed Fall II football season gave players an unexpected lesson in resilience while letting others try their hand at the gridiron game for the first time, coach Chris McMahon recently told the Community Advocate.
The Gators, like the rest of Massachusetts, had their football season pushed back to March for a Fall II season due to COVID-19. When speaking with the Community Advocate, though, Grafton head coach Chris McMahon said he was just thankful to get a season in.
“For all of our players in the program, having a chance to play really helped with giving them a sense of normalcy,” McMahon said. “I was especially happy that our seniors had the opportunity to play.”
When speaking on the importance of the season, McMahon said, “We were able to not only practice and play, we had a chance to develop those bonds that are so important in team sports.”
McMahon went on to say, “I also think the players will be more prepared to deal with challenges in the future, whether that is in sports and in life; having a chance to play and come together as a team will benefit all of us in the future.”
Pushing the football season back to March was highly beneficial for the seniors. Many, after all, initially thought that they would not get to play in their final season because of COVID-19.
“It was very important,” McMahon said. “Most of them have been a part of our program for four years. They have worked extremely hard over those years.”
McMahon said that the Fall II season allowed other seniors to try their hand at football for the first time.
Whether by relieving past scheduling problems or other issues, this sprint of a season this spring worked for some who had been previously unavailable in the fall.
The biggest challenge of the season, McMahon said, came from splitting the football program into two teams that could not come into contact with each other.
To mitigate COVID-19 spread, there were no shared practices or close combined events involving the varsity and junior varsity programs.
“We really kept the two teams apart,” McMahon said. “The assistant coaches did a great job with the two teams.”
Grafton finished the season with a 3-2 record. Their defense was strong, only allowing 10 points per game.
“The players did a really nice job this season defensively,” McMahon said, acknowledging the success. “We had some experience at key positions, and some new players really stepped up for us.”
He went on to say, “I think one of the biggest factors is the players knowing what they are responsible for in terms of run and pass assignments. Our players did a great job of knowing what they had to do in order to be successful.”
The football season is over. As players move on, a new crop of players are hitting the field for a spring sports season shaped by and built on the foundation Fall II teams laid.