By Luke Canavan
FRAMINGHAM – The Framingham High School football team plans to make its return on Wednesday, February 24.
The team will likely be practicing at the New England Baseball Complex in Northborough for the first two weeks of the season.
Instead of the typical varsity, JV, and freshman teams that Framingham has had in the past, this year there will only be two teams.
“Really there’s going to be a Varsity team and sub-varsity team,” said Framingham Football Head Coach Ed Mantie. “The Varsity team is going to be made up of anyone we think can contribute on Friday nights and Saturday afternoons, whether that be a senior or a freshman, and sub-varsity is going to be mostly freshman and sophomores.”
To determine who will be on which team, the football program is going to have to be much more fluid.
“It’s more about levels, and trying to get people in the right levels,” said Mantie. “Just because you’re at one level doesn’t mean you’re going to stay there. It could change from practice to practice, day to day, [or] game to game.”
This year, the team is only allowed to have 45 players dress for varsity games, which is a new rule added to help keep numbers down in accordance with the COVID-19 protocol.
The sidelines will also be expanded to make sure there is plenty of room for the players to spread out.
Due to COVID, students are going to have to meet extra requirements and keep up with regular testing in order to continue to play throughout the season.
“Part of what kids are going to need to have before we start on Wednesday is, obviously they’ve got to be registered to play football, they’ve got to have a physical that’s up to date within the last fifteen months, and they’ve got to have a negative COVID test [taken] within the last 72 hours,” said Mantie. “That can get them started to practice, and then I think weekly, every Monday or Tuesday, we are going to test kids to make sure everyone is where they need to be.”
The team is currently scheduled to play five games this season. the MIAA created a Fall II season during the coronavirus pandemic. The season is between what is traditionally the winter and spring sports season.
“I know that we will be playing all the teams on our side — Brookline, Wellesley, Newton North, and Natick are definites,” said Mantie. “Then we will have one crossover game with the Baystate League, which I believe we are scheduled to play Walpole.”
Despite the limited number of games and increased limitations due to COVID, the Framingham Flyers football team is still making the best of the situation and doing all that they can to ensure their players are still able to have a season.
“I know that the kids are excited. I’m excited. We’re looking forward to being that first group of teams that can get back on the field and represent Framingham the best we can,” said Mantie. “[We’re ready to] get out there, run around and have fun, and be part of something that we haven’t been a part of for quite some time.”
Luke Canavan is a spring 2021 SOURCE intern. He is currently a senior at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he studies Communication and English. He is passionate about film, television, writing, and literature, and upon graduation, he hopes to work in the entertainment industry full-time, where he can pursue his love for storytelling.
Editor’s Note: Report was updated to fix names of teams scheduled to include Newton North