After months of waiting and not knowing if they’d ever take the field, high school football teams in Virginia return to the gridiron this week, with some playing games as soon as Monday night.

One school not playing is North Cross. Because the Raiders have already played.

The private school program was one of the few in the Commonwealth that took the field in its traditional fall time frame.

The Raiders only played four of the six games scheduled before COVID-19 issues shortened the season even further.

But they have some advice for those about to suit up this week.

“One of the biggest challenges was that we prepared without knowing exactly who we’re competing against or when the game was going to be and so you have to have big goals. Sometimes you don’t get that payoff on Friday night that we’re used to,” head coach Stephen Alexander said. “You don’t get a week of practice and you go right into a game. We had so many hiccups and so many canceled weeks that the challenge was keeping the guys focused and making sure they understood we’re focused on the big picture not necessarily an immediate game.”

Sophomore Chase Daniel says players need to be smart.

“There was a level of sacrifice throughout the team that we all had to make to be accountable for each other. Accountability was huge,” Daniel said. “We had to be smart. Had to be wearing masks and that was definitely stressed as a program.”

The Raiders finished the 2020 season with a perfect 4-0 record.