By Mark Jurgena
Back on July 29th the IHSA punted the fall football season all the way to mid-February due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but that certainly has not dampened the spirits of new Collinsville football coach Joe Bevis.
“If they would’ve told us last week, ‘you need to be ready to go on October 5th,’ I’m going to be ready and we’re going to be pumped,’” Bevis said back on October 5th. “Right now our date is February 15th, we’re going to be ready and we’re going to be pumped. You could say we’re delaying it until July, we’re going to be ready and we’re going to be pumped. I love football!”
Despite his readily apparent enthusiasm for the job, Bevis, a former Division I linebacker at Illinois, understands this spring won’t be easy.
Last season saw the Kahoks go through a winless campaign after the loss of two senior skill players. Starting quarterback Chris Chi went down in the opening half of game one and two-way starter Jake Holten suffered a season ending ankle injury in week six.
They will look to begin fresh on March 5th at Triad. Last season the Knights drubbed the Kahoks 38-7.
“They’re a triple option team, you know they’re going to be a triple option team,” Bevis said. “We’ve got to figure out how to get our kids lined up, in the right spot, focused and healthy, defending a triple option team.
“With us being a first-year staff with the program I am thankful for all this extra time don’t get me wrong,” he said. “Having the opportunity to get 20 extra practices is HUGE for us with where we are at as a program.”
However, those practices aren’t full contact.
In July, IHSA member schools were allowed to conduct practices in shoulder pads and helmets but had to follow strict rules about the type and duration of contact between players.
The Kahoks worked against practice dummies and hand shields in the summer sun.
While a cool down has occurred here in the fall, those same guidelines remain.
“We’ve gone very low to pretty much no contact since we’re helmets only (this fall),” said Bevis. “We’ve been hitting hand shields and bags and that type of stuff. You can’t hit each other without it anyway according to the IHSA rules. So that’s how we’ve evolved our practices. It’s technique based.”
What happens in February is unknown, however Bevis struck his customary competitive tone.
“For optimal performance I think we need to not only practice hard, but practice smart,” he began. “I love team (offense) on hand shields, I think you can get just as physical against hand shields.”
They will need to learn that physicality in a hurry this spring.
The team has joined the Mississippi Valley Conference for only the 2021 spring campaign in an attempt to follow IHSA and IDPH recommendations.
After beginning with perennial playoff qualifier Triad, they host a Class 5A semifinalist from a year ago in Mascoutah and follow that with another consistent playoff qualifier, Highland, on the road.
Bevis and his squad will welcome the challenges assuming they get to play.