Inland high school football teams look forward to having ‘normal’ season

Inland high school football teams look forward to having ‘normal’ season

There was a heightened level of excitement during Monday evening’s football practice at Norco High School.

Norco was among several Inland football teams that practiced in full pads for the first time during the summer, another sign the beginning of the 2021 season is right around the corner. The Cougars are preparing for their scrimmage against JSerra on Aug. 13, as well as their Week 0 season opener against Vista Murrieta on Aug. 20.

I think everyone is excited to just have a normal season again,” Norco senior quarterback Kyle Crum said.

The previous football season was anything but normal, as the coronavirus pandemic delayed the start of the season multiple times. Most Inland teams managed to play only 3 to 5 games in the spring because of that late start, and there were no CIF Southern Section playoffs for the first time since 1943-44 (World War II).

Brian Hildebrand, the first-year coach at Rancho Cucamonga, said he can can sense the enthusiasm of his players.

“Last year definitely was a challenging time for everyone,” said Hildebrand, who led Temescal Canyon to a 4-1 record during the shortened spring season. “Now, there is a clear pathway and the road map is laid out. That has given them a greater feeling of hope and they are all extremely excited to get out and compete.”

Norco made the most of the abbreviated spring season, going 5-0 and knocking off Big VIII League rival Centennial for the first time since 2009. Cougars coach Chuck Chastain gave players a one-week break after the final game of the season (April 15), but the team went back in the weight room getting ready for a new season.

“That short break made for a grueling summer, but everyone is looking forward to having a full and normal season again,” Chastain said. “It definitely feels much different than where we were at this point last year.”

Crum said he is looking forward to everything that goes with the game-day experience.

“It’s going to be great having the stands full on Friday nights, wearing our jerseys to school and seeing everyone excited about the game,” Crum said. “I can’t wait. I want to make the most of my senior season.”

Teams who play their openers in Week 1 (Aug. 26-28) will be able to practice in full pads later this week or early next week.

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