ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — While many high schools got a taste of football in the spring, Roanoke Catholic is making its long-awaited return to the field.
The private school program finished as a state runner-up in 2019 and didn’t get to play at all in 2020. But while the Celtics are back, the path to becoming a contender again is far from easy.
“We really missed an opportunity to be with those boys. That was a good group of young men,” head coach Bob Price said.
Roanoke Catholic was poised for success last season, looking to return to the top of Division III in the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association after losing in the state championship to St. Michael in 2019.
But the Celtics couldn’t find teams to play during the pandemic-affected school year, staying absent from the football field altogether.
“A lot of them ended up going back to public school to have a season and we just didn’t have enough games to pull it together,” Price said.
One athlete who competed in the Virginia High School League’s spring season was senior safety Marquis Adams, who played for Patrick Henry before coming back to Roanoke Catholic for the fall.
“I feel it was very tough. We don’t have the experience that we would’ve had if we played last year and the opportunity,” Adams said. “I know these guys just really wanted a season last year and sadly we weren’t able to have one.”
Adams is one of the few players who bring experience to the Celtics’ roster, with Price looking for others to step up.
“Some of our young men go from not playing on the field to now they need to be the senior and we’re relying on them and they need to be the leader,” Price said. “That’s a huge jump for them when they’re not ready.”
Complicating Catholic’s comeback is a small roster. Less than 20 players are suiting up for the green and gold this year.
“You know, it’s very hard to have this small of a team,” Adams said. “But you know, every single guy comes out here and we work hard, we can make up the numbers with effort.”
Effort and enthusiasm — driving a team that’s eager to get back to football.
“We need to mature as a team. We need to grow. We need to get more physical. And we’re doing that but it’s going to take a few days to get where we need to be,” Price said. “We take it day by day. We’re not sure what the future is, we just need to get better every practice and take it one day at a time.”