CHARLES CITY, Va. (WWBT) - 2018 was a punch to the gut of Charles City County football. Low participation numbers forced the Panthers to cancel their season, stripping the players of the game they loved.
“You only get one chance in a lifetime to do this moment,” said senior Ha’ji Jackson. “It was pretty tough.”
“I really wanted to play,” added junior Raymond Fetter. “We played the year before, we had a good time, and then the next year, it kinda sucks that you don’t get to play.”
For an alumnus like 1998 Charles City graduate Sherod Jones, the move cut deeply.
“I take it personal,” said Jones. “I called a few guys, I told them ‘we gotta get down there and bring the team back together and we can’t have another season where there’s no football in Charles City County.’”
Mission accomplished, at least for the time being. Jones is now in his first year as head football coach at his alma mater, and has 26 players on this year’s roster. He even says there may be more guys coming out for the team. Now the players will once again get to experience the feeling of the field under their feet, fans in the stands and the Friday night lights.
“When I heard that, I was pretty excited,” said Jackson, a running back and fullback for the Panthers. “It was my senior year and I wanted to go out with my team.”
“They’ve learned that you can’t take [anything] for granted,” added Jones. “You’ve just got to come out here everyday and give everything you’ve got.”
Of course, missing a full season will cause some bumps in the road. The Panthers are getting back up to speed on being part of a varsity football team, and Charles City will play a six game schedule this year, as it begins piecing things back together.
“Sometimes you can lose the community,” Jones said. “A lot of people were down, but today, we can say that we’re back.”
Players, coaches and administrators are working hard on the rebirth of the program, and after the sights and sounds of football went missing in Charles City for a year, the players find themselves appreciating the game a little bit more.
“Football is my one sport that I really like to play,” said Jackson. “I’m just glad to play for my school and represent Charles City very well.”
“It can be here today, gone tomorrow,” remarked Jones. “Every play you play, play like it’s your last. Just enjoy your time under the Friday night lights.”
Charles City kicks off its season on Friday at Colonial Beach, its first game since November 3, 2017.
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