DID YOU KNOW?
• The WIAA allows for high school programs to conduct practices from the day after the spring sports ends until July 31. Participation in summer programs cannot be required.
• The WIAA also encourages coaches to be mindful that students should also have time to spend with family and friends, or to just take a break from sports.
• The first official day of football practice is Aug. 15. The first day of practice for other fall sports is Aug. 20.
Seton Catholic High School student Ian Boyle has never been shy when it comes to football.
Boyle played for his home school of Ridgefield during his first two high school seasons because his new private school did not have a program.
"I was the one hounding the principal to get a football team," Boyle said, recalling his freshman year and his discussions with Ed Little. "I was interested in playing with a team from my school. It's not a real high school without a football team."
This past fall, Boyle played for Seton Catholic's first football team — a junior varsity schedule.
Last week, Boyle and the Cougars participated in their first spring practices as a varsity football program. Seton Catholic has opted to play Class 1A sports for the 2012-13 school year and will be a Trico League football program.
A real school, indeed, according to Boyle, one of just two athletes who had previously played high school football before joining Seton's program.
With so many newcomers to the game, the coaching staff had to go over some basics.
"We had to teach (some of) them where the hash marks were, where the line of scrimmage was," said head coach Dan Chase. "A lot of them knew it from Madden."
Maybe that video game experience did help, though. The team went 7-2 with that junior varsity program.
That could be one of the reasons Chase is so excited for this fall.
"We are light years ahead of where we were last year," Chase said.
Seton Catholic athletic director Dick Scobba said he understands it is a learning process, and that the program could take its bumps in the early years.
Chase does not want to temper expectations.
"Our goal this year is to go to the postseason. It does sound crazy, but I think we can do it," Chase said. "We have the athletes at Seton Catholic. They're extremely coachable kids. You know they're going to give you 100 percent."
The players also are proud to be the trend setters.
"From here on, we'll always be the first year of varsity football players for Seton Catholic," said John Polen, who will be a junior in the fall. "Just getting the team going and creating a tradition of excellence and letting everyone know Seton Catholic is here to play some football."
That's how senior-to-be Riley McShane sees it, too.
"Last year, we were on the first team. This year, the first varsity team. It doesn't happen often you get to start something like this," he said.
McShane's story is typical of a small football program. He is an athlete who plays wherever he is needed to help the squad.
A back-up quarterback last year, he ended up starting as an offensive tackle. He also played defensive end. This season, he hopes to be the starting quarterback, while still playing on the DL.
Erik Powell, a senior-to-be, was a true find on the football field last year as a kicker. He made three of four field goal attempts from beyond 40 yards. He also is a wide receiver.
And, he almost was not a football player.
"I didn't think it was meant for me. But then I kind of felt left out. I said, 'What the heck? Do it.' It was a lot of fun," Powell said.
Powell said he is hoping he can share his experience with other Seton athletes who still have not made the jump into football.
"We need to get them to come out, so they can see they're missing all the fun we're having. They can be part of a successful team."
For Boyle — the student who pressed for football the day he came to Seton Catholic — success in the early going does not necessarily have to do with wins and losses.
"My expectation is to play to the best of our ability. As long as we're out here playing football, that's the key," he said. "I'm very proud of this. It's going to be an established program."
He even envisions Seton Catholic winning it all one day.
"I expect Seton to win a state championship within 50 years," he said.
"There are a lot of programs who have never won state," he explained with a smile. "I gotta give the guys a little chance to grow."
Oh, this football program is growing.In just a few months, Seton Catholic football will be going big time.