Football

Southern High School seniors return for one more season between the goalposts

Southern High School seniors return for one more season between the goalposts

The heat index at Southern High School in Louisville was over 100 degrees, yet the energy and enthusiasm at Trojan football practice is unmatched. That’s especially true for four of the players — ones who love football so much, they came back to repeat their senior year just to get another season on the field.

They’re known as “Super Seniors,” taking advantage of Kentucky State Senate Bill 128 that allows kids to retake their final year of high school because of what they missed due to COVID-19.

Head Coach Mike Gossett suspected he might have one or two players return, but he ended up with four.

“You gotta love the game to be willing to go sit in a high school classroom again,” he said. “I can’t even imagine!”

So why come back? The reasons vary for each player, but mainly it gives them a chance to have a normal, regular final season.

“Football last year was a lot of masks and stuff you had to worry about. It just didn’t feel like actual football season,” said middle linebacker Dominic Brackney. “This year it feels like a senior football season like it used to be. No one’s ever gonna get this chance again, so might as well take it.”

Wide Receiver Tyce Hall wants additional attention from major colleges that missed out on seeing him last year.

For some kids that were already committed to Division I schools, congratulations. But for me this is another chance to do what I didn’t do last year,” Hall said. “[COVID-19] took a lot of opportunity away from us. With this, Andy Beshear gave us a chance.”

Quarterback Kerry Hodge’s answer on why he came back was short and sweet: “You only live once.”

Hall explained it was that mindset that ultimately convinced all the players to return, saying they were all skeptical about the idea at first.

“I told them if you guys really love this game and you don’t want to give it up because of a 5-game season that we had no control over, use this opportunity,” Hall said. “Because if you won’t then 20 years from now we’ll be somewhere playing a pool game and you’ll be like, ‘Man I wish I would’ve came back for my fifth year.’”

But a return to the field also means a return to the classroom, even though they’ve already graduated. Hall said that should be interesting.

“Me and the fifth years have talked about that, just going back and what it’s gonna be like, because we’re taking the same exact classes,” he said.

That’s right, they’ll repeat the same schedule they had last year. But Brackney pointed out that last year was mostly virtual learning, with only six weeks at school.

He said having an entire year to learn in-person should make it feel different, although he acknowledged that “it’s weird because when you go home and you look in your room and you got your diploma sitting up there on your dresser.”

Hall said he wants to take advantage of his familiarity with the material.

“I’m gonna try and lead in the classroom, try and use this as an opportunity and lead by example because with this fifth year I can help myself and a lot of other people,” he said.

The Trojans compete at Kentucky’s highest level, Class 6-A, and they’re in the same district as state runner-up Male so this year will be a challenge, but Hodge says they are ready to “shock the world.”

They’ll take the first step toward doing that when they open the season at Doss on August 20.

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