BALTIMORE, Md. — After of weeks of waiting and months of uncertainty it is finally time to play some football.
"I’m happy to be back but I’m really happy for the kids," said Mount St. Joseph High School Head Coach Dom Damico.
"It feel amazing. It’s definitely exciting," said quarterback Billy Atkins. "It was tough for a few months not being able to play."
Mount St. Joseph visits Annapolis on Saturday to scrimmage St. Mary’s. It may not be a game, but it’s football and that’s all that counts.
"We are so excited to go against some competition finally," said defensive end Stephen Schulze. "There’s nothing like playing against another team."
The Gaels are the defending Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association champions. They return a stacked lineup led by Atkins. The quarterback is one of almost 30 seniors on the roster. He led the state with 3,089 passing yards in 2019. He also had 36 touchdowns. He’s currently positioned in seventh place on Maryland’s all-time passing yards list with 6,968 yards. He is No. 3 in the state all-time with 88 passing TD’s.
"We look pretty good. We look pretty fast. We look pretty physical. So, I’m definitely pretty excited about [this season]," he said.
He won’t be tossing any more touchdowns to his best receiver. Dont'e Thornton Jr. opted out of his senior year. The All-American and four-star recruit recently committed to the University of Oregon.
New on the sidelines for MSJ is Damico. The longtime McDonogh Head Coach takes over for Rich Holzer, who left for Northern-Calvert.
MIAA teams play six games this year with a championship contest in December. To get there the Gaels know they must stay virus-free. Temperature checks, health screenings and face coverings for players when not on the field are now all part of the routine.
"It’s a whole new world out there. We’re just trying to stay safe so our kids can play all seven games," said Damico. "I think it’s important. We talk about it every day - about being safe and making good decisions. We’re hoping to be playing on December 18 (the date of the MIAA title game) and we keep everybody COVID-free, and the rest of the league does, and we get all these games in for the seniors."
The first regular season game for Mount St. Joseph is on Nov. 7 against Spalding.