Area high school football fans suffering withdraws after the postponement of the fall season to spring because of COVID-19, have one last hope for getting their fix.
The Advancing Christ Through Sports (ACTS) Eagles are all geared up to play the 2020 season. ACTS is part of the Victory Worship Center just off U.S. 11 South outside Staunton.
The Eagles, who are beginning their second season of existence, are comprised of homeschool and private school students from around the region.
During its inaugural campaign in 2019, ACTS compiled a 3-4 record under head coach Bill Shirley. Shirley was the former head coach at Buffalo Gap from 1990-98.
“All plans are rolling along and we start practice Monday,” Shirley said.
The Eagles practice on the field behind the Staunton Moose Lodge, which is located across the road of the old Beverley Manor Elementary School.
Shirley said the team is still trying to secure a site for its home games. The Eagles used Western Albemarle High School for its “home” games last fall, but the field is not available this year because of restrictions related to the virus.
“Hopefully we can get a field around here,” Shirley said. “We rent the field, so I hope someone wants to make some money.”
In looking back on the first season, Shirley was happy with the way it played out.
“We lost our first three games, but then won three of our last four,” he said. “We got better each week. I was wondering for a while if we had enough to win a game. We had a lot of players in a football uniform for the first time, but they were dedicated to the cause from the beginning.”
The Eagles ended the season with 18 active players, and that number has grown to 25 for the upcoming year.
“We have a chance of adding a few more players,” Shirley said. “I like the way the numbers have grown.”
The Eagles currently have a nine-game schedule for 2020, with most being played on Saturday afternoons. Shirley said he’s not at the end of rope if someone has to cancel as a few other teams have inquired about playing.
“I am just glad we have a team that will be playing football,” he said.
Shirley emphasized the team has strict safety procedures in place.
“We will be checking temperatures before each practice and game,” he said. “All equipment will be cleaned daily and there will be hand sanitizer at all breaks. Plus each player has his own water bottle.
“We are doing everything necessary to keep everyone safe. We feel good about the safety measures not only from us but from the other teams we are playing. We are all in this together,” Shirley said. “We want a season, but we want it to be safe and have a full one.”