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'I woke up ecstatic this morning': Eastern Washington high school football teams begin practice

Games will begin for Greater Spokane League teams on February 27.

SPOKANE, Wash. — For Shadle Park's Ryan Schmidt and hundreds of other football players, Monday felt like Christmas morning.

"[I] had a little trouble sleeping last night. Just couldn’t wait to get back," said Schmidt.

"I woke up just ecstatic this morning. Just like jumped out, got all my stuff ready as soon as I woke up. Then just basically sat at the door waiting to leave," said Gonzaga Prep running back Jaden Ortega.

"I knew I liked the game of football, but not having it showed me that I really love the game, and it’s weird without it," said Gonzaga Prep cornerback Brendan Kelly.

It was the second moment of elation football players around the region have felt in the last week. 

High-risk sports are permitted to play games in phase 2, which the East region moved to this past Thursday for at least the next two weeks.

"My mom got a notification on her phone, and she told me. Before I could get to my phone, all my buddies were texting each other saying, ‘We’re going to be playing.’ So we’re all super stoked for it," said Shadle Park running back Logan Doyle.

This season also is super important to some kids putting on the pads for what they hope is not the last time.

"I’m riding on this season because I’m trying to play football in college. Hopefully this season will open up more opportunities for me," said Ortega.

The mantra this year for our local kids and coaches is to not take anything for granted, so Monday’s snow didn’t put a damper on anyone’s spirits either.

"They came at 1 o’clock to help shovel the field, so they were really excited to be here. They didn’t hesitate, they didn’t complain. You can see it’s not the greatest surface but heck, they don’t care. They’re having fun and they were so excited to be out here," said Gonzaga Prep head coach Dave McKenna.

"I think that’s why I didn’t have any family members or parents even irritated about the idea of practicing outside today. Nobody complained about that at all," said Shadle Park head coach Jim Mace, who's team opted at the last minute to practice inside. "I think there’s this excitement of we’re ready to go, and we’ll take it as it is."

And that means one game, two games, a full season, or no games. 

There’s a new perspective for all, and that means all are just trying to savor every moment.

"The seniors, four-year guys, a lot of those guys were good baseball and track guys who lost seasons. I was worried they weren’t going to get anything so the fact that we can give them a game or two or hopefully a whole season, it’ll be something that I'll remember," said Mace.

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