High school football returns, COVID lingers after altered seasons

The FOX6 High School Blitz returns Friday, Aug. 20 for another football season. While the excitement builds, there may be storm clouds ahead.

"There is still that gray cloud behind you that you're worried about as a coach. Last year was a tough year for all of us," said Franklin High School head football coach Louis Brown.

The skies may be clearing as football programs return to somewhat normalcy. Some played the previous fall, others waited until spring – and others chose to sit out entirely. But everyone, including Louis Brown and the Franklin, is back in 2021.

"We've been looking forward to this for a long time. We didn't get this last year. We didn't have our camp. We didn't have our two days practice. We didn't start till after Labor Day, so for some of these guys, this is unchartered territory," Brown said. "A lot of these guys haven't ever done it a day. So, yeah, we're looking forward to the opportunity on Friday to show everyone what we're, you know, what we're made of."

The Franklin Sabers played only a handful of games in 2020. For senior quarterback and Wisconsin recruit Myles Burkett, there is a newfound appreciation for everyone around him.

"You really got to value the game. You value your teammates, value your coaches, you value your program, your school, everything, because we saw how easy it was to get taken away," said Burckett. "Now we got it back at some sort of way."

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Burckett hopes the Sabers put 14 games on their schedule this season. He wants to head to Madison with a trophy.

About 25 miles north of Franklin, Burckett's future teammate and Whitefish Bay lineman Joe Brunner also has state title aspiration.

"I'm very motivated to show who we are. Like I said, coming off an amazing year last year, one of the best years in school history. It's pretty special, and people probably won't expect us to be as good, but I think we have an opportunity to be as good or better," said Brunner.

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Players may be focusing on the end goal, but this season will not be without some dark clouds. Games are already getting canceled due to COVID-19. Brown, like many coaches, is preparing for the worst.

"There'll be kids that'll be told that they can't play, and they're not going to be happy. Their parents aren't going to be happy. And it's just the nature of it," said Brown. "We just got to be better. I got to think, worst case scenario, so we got to have our third and fourth stringers ready. You know, it's not just your key backup. You would have both of them out. So, you know, you just got to think as a coach, worst case scenario, praying for best case scenario."

At this moment, best case scenario is getting to play every Friday night.

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