HARWICH – Freshmen players on the Cape Cod Tech football team are assigned white practice jerseys to signify they are new to the program, while players in the older grades wear maroon to indicate their status as returning players or upperclassmen.
Stop by a Crusaders practice at the new high school in Harwich and you’ll spot a sea of white jerseys around the field.
“That’s probably some of the most white jerseys I’ve ever seen,” junior fullback and defensive end Maddox Walker said as he peered over his shoulder during a recent practice. “It’s just a very young team.”
“Normally we hold off on all the freshmen joining us, but we’ve had so much involvement with them signing up early through the online sign-ups and all that stuff that we brought them along,” Cape Tech head coach Chris Leonard said. “We have 16 I think now, but we expect that group to grow to 30.”
Walker joins junior offensive lineman Gabe Smith as the offense’s top returners from last year’s team. The team finished 1-3 during the Fall II season — which featured an abbreviated schedule during the spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Getting back into football mode hasn’t been the easiest thing for Cape schools, particularly at Tech, where students are encouraged to gain valuable work experience while pursuing their degrees.
“There’s a labor shortage on Cape Cod and the community is leaning on our kids,” Leonard said. “It’s going to be a little slow [getting started] this year. But that’s the best part about being a tech school — our kids are working good jobs and making real money and they’re doing what they’ve got to do.”
The Crusaders will only have a handful of seniors when they travel across town to play at Monomoy in their season opener at 6 p.m. Sept. 10. However, the seniors are excited about the opportunities to be leaders for the young group.
“I’ve been waiting since I was a freshman, so it’s been really cool being a leader,” said senior wide receiver Isaiah Cruz, a Yarmouth resident.
Even though the team has seen some players miss the first couple practices due to work, Leonard has been thrilled about what he has seen from his squad during the first week of practice. After playing only four games in the spring and having two more get canceled, the Crusaders’ coach said this year feels like a normal preseason camp.
“This is like real football,” he said. “The kids are really excited to be here and have the whole setup. At this school in particular, we really need the full preseason setup. Last season was like, ‘All right go play football.’”
Leonard said he leans on Cruz and Walker, a Harwich resident, to set the tempo at practices.
“We’re going to be young,” Leonard said. “Pretty much everybody else other than Maddox Walker, our fullback, and Gabe Smith, our offensive lineman, is going to be stepping into new positions. We’re going to expect those kids to lead this year.”
Email Brad Joyal at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cape Tech Crusaders 2021 Schedule
Sept. 10: At Monomoy; 6 p.m.
Sept. 18: Vs. Old Colony, 1 p.m.
Sept. 25: Vs. Holbrook, 1 p.m.
Oct. 2: At Bristol-Plymouth, 1 p.m.
Oct. 7: At South Shore Voke, 6 p.m.
Oct. 16: Vs. Upper Cape, 1 p.m.
Oct. 30: Vs. Atlantis Charter, 1 p.m.
Nov. 25: At Upper Cape, 10 a.m.