Decision To Halt Traditional High School Football Draws Strong Reaction From Players

Players and parents say they are saddened by CIAC's decision to change course on high school football.

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Heartbroken: it was a word used over and over Friday by high school football players and their parents. This after learning of the CIAC’s decision to disallow traditional, 11-on-11 full-contact football.

“I couldn’t comprehend at first and it was heartbreaking, it really was,” said Jason Villano, a senior at Sheehan High School.  

Villano is a senior and returning player for Sheehan High School, the defending Class S state champions.

“We had lofty goals for this season and to just see them taken away from us with nothing we can do about it is upsetting,” he said.

Jason’s father said Friday's decision was devastating for his son and his teammates.

“It broke my heart. My heart is just bleeding tears for these boys,” said Ed Villano.

As the CIAC complies with the Department of Public Health recommendations, a modified lower-risk version of the game is being offered. Players, though, aren’t necessarily sold on what could be a 7 on 7 low-contact variation.

“We’ve all been working very hard and just to see that it’s gone to 7 on 7 it’s heartbreaking,” said Tony Mascitti, a Manchester High School football player.

Mascitti, like others, thinks the season should be moved to the spring.

“If we play in the spring, hopefully, we’ll have a cure for this thing and we can have people come to the games,” said Mascitti. “It can be a normal atmosphere again.”

The CIAC previously stated they would not postpone to the spring but some players think that should still be explored.

“If the cases don’t go down how they want it to by then at least we tried,” said Jason Villano.

For many programs, informal practices continued today, using masks and social distancing guidelines in which teams were asked to implement. Teams have had these measures in place since they began training weeks ago.

Considering the work players and programs have already put into the season, Ed Villano said some parents aren’t done fighting this decision and there is consideration of a possible rally at the capitol.

“We feel that this is ridiculous that these boys can’t play,” said Villano. “We jumped through all the hoops they made them jump through.”

Meanwhile, there is a petition to allow 11 on 11 football that already has over 20 thousand signatures.

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