TURNER — There is no question players would rather suit up for a contact game, but that didn’t stop Leavitt and Winthrop/Monmouth athletes from putting their hearts and souls into 7-on-7 touch football on an overcast Saturday.

This version of exciting football is a run-and-gun, high-scoring affair, and the coaches are allowed to remain on the playing field to oversee their teams. In this venue, quarterbacks throw the football as much as a major league pitcher and any team’s secondary is always on call.

And you can bet those players were elated to toss around the old pigskin in an officiated game.

The Hornets came out on top, 38-18, over the Ramblers, with Leavitt senior quarterback Wyatt Hathaway spearheading the offense and throwing five touchdown passes.

“It feels different, but it feels good,” Leavitt coach Mike Hathaway said. “It feels good because for a while we thought we would be doing absolutely nothing. So to see kids out here working together, having a good time, you know, being able to have some sort of semblance of football, I think that is what we are trying to accomplish, and I think that was accomplished. It is not an equal substitute for what we could be doing, but it is giving them something.”

Turner schools went remote for one week due to several positive coronavirus cases were discovered within MSAD 52. The Hornets returned to practice for the first time on Friday.

“For those of us that had been sitting at home for two weeks, it was great to get out here and do something together,” Mike Hathaway said.

“Obviously, it is fun,” said Wyatt Hathaway, Mike’s son. “It doesn’t feel quite the same without some of our linemen. The whole team is just a tight group, so we are still getting used to not having some of our guys around, but we like (touch football).”

“I am throwing the ball almost a 100 times a game,” he added. “It is going to get you better. Not having football would be tough for a lot of our guys. Obviously, it is not the same as 11-on-11, but it still feels good to be out here with some of our guys.”

By halftime, the Hornets held on to a 14-6 lead, with Hathaway throwing touchdown passes to Hunter Hayes and Ben Sirois. Hathaway also found Brett Coburn for the conversion in the first quarter. The Ramblers got their first TD after QB Andrew Foster connected with Gavin Perkins with 30 seconds left in the first quarter.

Players such as Leavitt senior linebacker Tommy Casey have switched positions to play touch football for the season. 

“Now I am playing a little of tailback and tight end,” Casey said with a smile. “(But) it feels great to be back. It is not something that I wanted. It is not what anyone wanted, but at least we are out in the field getting some work in.”

Casey admitted touch football is a bit foreign to him.

“I am so used to just contact,” he said. “I am a linebacker and I used to play the old line. Usually, it is just contact every game, so it is a big change for me and a lot of these people.

“Every one was really positive,” he added. “We were all uplifted and we were all ready to go and pumped up to get out on the field have some competition for once.”

The Hornets produced a touchdown early in the third quarter, with Hathaway finding Trevor Bosse open and then connecting with his brother, Sawyer Hathaway, for the conversion. Winthrop responded with a late touchdown when Andrew Foster sent a pass to Gavin Perkins again, but Leavitt still led 22-12.

“It is weird (being out here), but it is also nice. It is better than having nothing,” Perkins said. 

Perkins’ teammate, Noah Dunn, was pleased that there was a football game, no matter what form it comes in this season.

“I feel like you need to be prepared for anything you are given,” Dunn said. “You have to be grateful for what you have and I wasn’t weirded out by any of it. I just went out and played football. Personally, I like more contact. I like the pads.” 

The fourth quarter featured another display of marksmanship by Wyatt Hathaway. He connected with Coburn and Sirois for a pair of TDs. Hathaway also threw two successful conversion passes to Bosse and Zack Madison.

Winthrop quarterback Owen Harding threw a TD reception to Logan Baird in the last stanza.

“We’ve been doing stuff together since July with Phase 1, 2, 3 and 4,” Winthrop/Monmouth coach Dave St. Hilaire said. “But every week we got postponed, so this is the first time we came out to play another team.”

“It was great to get out here and (say), ‘Hey, here comes a full-speed varsity unit against you.’ So it was good to get out here,” St. Hilaire added. “Obviously we prefer tackle. It is Oct. 3 and we finally played another team.”

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