Safety a Big Priority as CHSAA Athletes Take the Field


Ethan Robinson looked back and thought ahead as he took the field for his first competitive game in more than a year as he and his Iona Preparatory School teammates defeated Fordham Prep, 46-23, in a 7 on 7 flag football game Oct. 10.

“It was complete excitement, enthusiasm and nostalgia. It’s been so long I thought back to last year and how we were having a good season (winning our division before losing in the league semifinals to Cardinal Hayes),” Robinson told CNY.

CHSAA athletics in the archdiocese began practicing Sept. 21, and are now competing in games. The Catholic High School Football League began a shortened season of 7 on 7 flag football over the Columbus Day weekend with the approval of the New York State Catholic High School Athletic Association. The fall football season was postponed to March 1 after football was ruled a high-risk sport.

“We’re playing well and starting to put everything together,” said Robinson, a senior who will play at Bucknell University next fall. “We want to win these games, but we have to get everything ready for the spring. We expect to win a state championship (this spring) and nothing less. I believe we should have won it last year.”

In 7 on 7 flag football, the CHSFL is playing two 22-minute halves, on a 40-yard field. A team has four downs to get to the 20, and receives an additional four downs to score from there.

The center, the only offensive lineman, snaps the football to the quarterback, who has four seconds to release the ball before the defense is credited with a coverage sack. A touchdown is six points, and a scoring team has the option to attempt a one- or two-point conversion.

Athletes, coaches, school officials and spectators are expected to wear masks and practice social distancing. Iona Prep head coach Joe Spagnolo said his school is doing all it can to keep everyone safe, such as chairs being used instead of benches on the sidelines, individual water bottles for each player and the availability of hand-sanitizing stations.

“We’re following every one of the Covid-19 protocols out there. I wouldn’t be involved in anything that questioned the safety of our boys,” Spagnolo said.

“Just having the kids back in a normal routine is great. They’re practicing three days a week and they get to do something that’s been a part of their life.”

Kevin Pigott is the vice president of the state CHSAA and president for CHSAA boys athletics in the archdiocese. He’s been to a number of boys’ soccer matches and cross-country meets, which he oversees during the fall season.

“The kids have been great and are happy they’re competing,” Pigott said. “The parents are very appreciative. It’s going well for us and hopefully we’ll keep it going.”


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