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HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL KICKOFF: Northern Iowa teams begin seasons with new guidelines

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St. Ansgar Saints prepare for season opener at Osage's Sawyer Field

OSAGE, Iowa (KTTC) - High school football is back. Not in Minnesota, but south in Iowa, St. Ansgar opened the season with a trip to single A rivals, Osage.

With some states postponing high school football to the spring, Iowans are happy to have football back, even in the middle of a pandemic.

For Osage High School's new football coach, taking over in the middle of a pandemic with a first game against your rivals is tough enough.

"Meeting my team over zoom was probably the biggest difficulty," said head coach Torian Wolf. "I'm a very energetic person and I like to present my personality. Doing that over a zoom meeting can be a little difficult."

Iowa's high school football season was in doubt, but it is finally here.

"We're very excited. Ready to get back to normal and play some football," said St. Ansgar parent Aaron Peterson. "It's a good tradition here at St. Ansgar so everybody is excited about football."

After missing the single A state title game after its only loss of the season to Grundy Center, the Saints are hoping to go one better this year, even if it is an abnormal season.

"I don't think anything will look different but they're taking a lot of precautions to make sure they're safe," Peterson said. "They are strict about it. The kids are doing what they need to do by wearing face masks, shields and social distancing. I'm not worried about anything."

To ensure safety, footballs are sanitized, officials call extra timeouts for water and cleaning and they stay a little bit farther from the action

There was concern about the season starting even with precautions but coaches believe the guidelines put in place by the Iowa High School Atheltic Association are enough.

"I fear mostly for the kids mental health if they don't have sports around," Wolf said. "I know sports aren't the end all to everything but it presents a release for the kids and allows them to get outside their house to do something."

While everyone involved is excited to back out on the gridiron, they know they have to do their part to make sure the season does not get cancelled.

"Day in, day out, we keep preaching to our kids to be as safe as they can inside and outside of school," Osage's coach said. "As frustrating as it is to have a mask on, they're going to do it because they want to have a season."

Coach Wolf has received concerns from Osage parents about safety but has not had any kid drop off the Green Devils football team because of those concerns.

But what about St. Ansgar?

"No concern on my part except maybe the Big Ten should be watching," Peterson said with a smile. "Maybe they could pick up some pointers from Iowa football."

Fans are urged to socially distance. While masks are not required, but they are recommended. About half of the fans in the stands wore masks, with about half without.

St. Ansgar held off the home team by a 38-12 score. After the game, the Saints were presented with a trophy for winning the local grudge match.

Alex Tejada

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