The Wildcats sharpen their claws, waiting to return to the gridiron

Miles Shaw

Homecoming Week has arrived for the Wildcats. The week usually consists of festivities draped in Weber State purple and a hard-hitting Wildcat football game capping off the week, but due to the pandemic it will be a bit different this year.

The Weber State Wildcat football team runs onto the field before the game begins while pyrotechnics erupt in the background. (Kalie Pead/The Signpost)
The Weber State Wildcat football team runs onto the field before the game 2019 Homecoming game begins while pyrotechnics erupt in the background. (Kalie Pead / The Signpost) Photo credit: Signpost Archives

One major difference is the missing gridiron battle this fall, and along with it the absence of Wildcat fans cheering along their team as pads and helmets crash together in the pursuit of a Wildcat win.

Instead, the only sound will be the deafening silence of Stewart Stadium as it sits empty, awaiting football’s return.

However, even with no games this season, victory is no stranger in Stewart Stadium. As the Wildcats work to get better each and every practice, victory is always the goal.

Associate head football coach Brent Myers said the team did their normal summer workouts in June and July, but they trained following COVID-19 protocols.

The team has protocols to follow, but they were still able to complete 10 walkthroughs this summer while following guidelines set by the NCAA, even though their spring was cut short due to the pandemic.

“The kids were so excited to get into spring ball, and continue to practice and get better, and then when we had spring athletics canceled; that was definitely a disappointment,” Myers said.

During the last week of September, the Wildcats opened “fall ball,” which is the equivalent of spring practice, but in the fall. It consists of 15 practices in about a 30-day period.

“The NCAA rules and the Big Sky Conference are allowing teams to practice in restricted numbers and groups, so we’re getting the opportunity to do that in the fall, and we decided as a staff to do that in September and October so we could get decent weather,” Myers said.

With the team in the midst of “fall ball” right now, Weber football is also in unprecedented territory, as it’s the first time in school history that a whole football season has been postponed.

While history has been made in a negative way, there are plans being put in place for the season to be played.

Big Sky Conference Commissioner Tom Wistrcill recently spoke with the Weber State Athletics ‘Cat Tales Podcast about the upcoming season and the plan in place for it to begin.

“At this point we’re working off some different models, but we’re looking at eight games, conference only, starting around Feb. 20. We’ll be trying to fit those eight games over nine weeks,” Wistrcill said.

With the Big Ten and Pac-12 Conferences announcing schedules beginning in late October, the Big Sky Conference still only has plans for playing in the spring.

“To me, it’s not about the possibility, it’s about the opportunity. Our opportunity is in the spring, we’ve made that decision. We’re ready to move on and we’re looking forward to a great spring schedule,” Wistrill told 406 MT Sports last week.

At the Pep Rally on Oct. 5, Jay Hill announced to cheering fans the potential return of WSU football in February 2021. When the season does arrive, victory will be on the minds of Wildcat fans: it’s been a common occurrence for the Wildcats.

They have won the Big Sky Conference the last three years, while also only losing two games in Ogden in the last two seasons.

“We had such a good season last year, I think the kids are feeling pretty good about the fact we’re going to have a spring season. I think there’s a little renewed hope that everything will work out,” Myers said.

While Weber State’s football season and the rest of the Big Sky Conference is cemented in the spring, and with major Division I Conferences like the Pac-12 and Big Ten beginning play at the end of October, there’s hope the scheduled Big Sky season will kickoff as planned.

Of course, just as the NFL, the highest level of football, is experiencing schedule interruptions, changing plans due to COVID-19 is always a possibility.

All Wildcat fans can do is wait and be ready to cheer on Weber State when they return to their lair at Stewart Stadium for an opportunity to defend their back-to-back-to-back Big Sky Conference titles.