High school football returns for first week of contests, albeit with restrictions

PRAIRIE DU SAC, Wis. – The Sauk Prairie High School football team took to the field for the first time in 2020, one of just a handful of schools in South Central Wisconsin to do so Friday night.

While the game featured many of the aspects you’d expect for high school athletics, there were a number of changes to protect fans from the spread of COVID-19.

“We have a 2000 seat stadium, but tonight we’ll have about 500 in there,” said Sauk Prairie High School Principal Chad Harnisch. “I’d love to have it full and people screaming, but that will come later.”

Players on the Sauk Prairie team were given four tickets each to distribute to immediate family members, while the away team were given two per player. In addition, all fans were required to wear masks for the entirety of the game.

“It’s been a daunting task, right? It’s been a lot of information, a lot of changes,” said Sauk Prairie Activities director Josh Boyer. “I knew I wanted to do everything I could to make it possible this fall under the current guidelines we could operate under.”

Despite the changes, it’s worth it for seniors like Noami Breunig, who had the opportunity to watch her twin brother Isaac play Friday night.

“I know he’s excited, he’s been looking forward to this all summer,” Breunig said.  “They worked really hard for this. To finally get out here and get a chance to play, even if it’s just one game.”

Boyer says tonight’s game will provide more than just exercise.

“There’s been a lot of studies just on the mental health aspects and kids participating in sports, just activities in general,” Boyer said. “They just have a heightened sense of belonging and belief that this is what they love to do.”