Football Team Tackles Obstacles at Season’s Start


Audrey Hemingway

Highland facing Granger during 2020 season.

Olivia Hufford, Associate Editor

Rebounding from a season that, due to the pandemic, lacked much of the roaring crowds that mark the competitive atmosphere at each game, the Highland Rams are back after months of working with hard training regimens and a brand-new coaching staff. 

Unfortunately, the much-anticipated kick-off to football’s 2021 season didn’t go as planned. On Friday, August 13, the team received the news that a player had tested positive for COVID-19. Staff had no choice but to cancel the game expected to take place that evening, which would’ve been the season’s first. 

New head coach, Kautai Olevao, discussed the sequence of events in regards to the cancellation. 

“It was the day of [the game that it was canceled],” Olevao said. “The last time we had contact with [the player] was that Wednesday, but we didn’t get the results until Friday.” 

Ultimately, the team was sent into quarantine and a mandatory moratorium from practices and games until the following Wednesday. 

Without the typical team workouts that had persisted throughout the year, players didn’t have the opportunities for maintaining their fitness, despite the workouts that Olevao said coaching staff prescribed the players. 

“We were out for about a week since we were told someone had tested positive, so that was difficult because we couldn’t practice, couldn’t do the things we normally do in preparation for a game.” 

The physical repercussions for missing a given period of time training for any sport are legitimate, as Olevao mentions. 

“Sports require you to do repetition to get things down, and to go that long without it, that’s what hurt us,” he said. 

Aside from the physical element of the quarantine, there was a mental aspect at hand, due to the disappointment the team faced in the wake of the game’s cancellation. 

As Olevao describes it, he said that the mental impact is something that could’ve affected them coming back to the playing field. 

“It’s the first game and—with the first game—all the hard work in the spring and in the summer, all of that is in preparation for [that] and to be told you [couldn’t play], that was discouraging for the boys,” Olevao said. 

Highland’s head coach mentioned the discouragement the team as a whole faced, but emphasized that he was disappointed for the boys most of all, knowing how hard they had worked up to that point. 

The team returned to practice two days prior to their “real” first game of the season and tried to fit in their typical preparation before they faced Pineview on August 20. 

The Highland Rams lost to Pineview 35-0 following the team’s return from quarantine. The next week’s game led to a second loss at Fremont 41-13. 

Despite the loss, Olevao remained positive: “We did our best and that was it, we’re excited to be playing.” 

Olevao’s ambitions since the spring of this year, at the time of his instatement as head coach, have not changed; the team will be focused on improving and winning future games. 

Expanding on this, the head coach emphasized his faith in the building of a team, even if it is still in its infancy. 

“The goal is the same, we want to win our games,” he said. “In order to do that, I want us to perform to the best we can. We’re still [. . .] a new team, and a new coaching staff as well, and we’re hoping that comes together sooner than later.” 

The Highland Rams still have a series of opportunities for a win to come, and what those results will be is still in anticipation. 

“We’ll see when it comes game time, that’s where the results are,” Olevao said.