Indians prepare for unusual season

Perhaps the most unusual football season in Yuma High School history kicks off Monday night.
The fact that the opener is on a Monday night says it all.
“If we can at least play six games, and stay healthy, and the seniors get somewhat of a senior season, I’d say it’s a win,” coach Kelly Seward said.
The Indians open at defending state champion Limon Badgers on Monday. Kickoff is at 6 p.m. It will be a North Central Conference game. Limon is allowing only two spectators per player, as Lincoln County recently experienced a spike in COVID-19 cases.

Seward and his staff starting getting all of their players back late last week, giving the players just enough time to get in the required nine practices before playing in a game.
“Both Saturdays gives us our nine practices, and then we go play the defending state champions,” Seward said. “It is what it is. There’s no reason to make excuses.”
Two to three student athletes still are in quarantine, and four players currently are with the cross country team until as late as October 17, the day of the state cross country meet — also the day of Yuma’s home opener against Platte Canyon, the Indians’ only non-league game.
“I’m glad they decided to do something,” Seward said of the players on the cross country team, which is having a great season. “I’m glad they were staying involved.”
The roster should be around 45 players when everyone is back.
There are going to be a lot of new faces in the starting roles when all is said and done.
“Obviously, what’s great is up front on both sides of the ball, besides Preston Blach, we have everyone back,” Seward said.
However, nearly all of the linebacking corp and the secondary will be new starters, and same with nearly all of the skill positions on offense, which in particular lost its starting quarterback and leading rusher to graduation.
Seward noted, though, this is the third year of his program, adding the junior high coaches have done a great job of implementing the same system. Plus, YHS is one of the rare 1A programs that has had nine JV games in recent seasons.
“Everyone has been in our system for three years now,” he said. “It’s still new but everyone’s much more comfortable and familiar with what we’re doing, even the kids coming up from junior high.”
Coming off of two weeks of remote learning also has been a challenge for the student-athletes as more than usual have ended up on the downlist.
“We have to get through the middle of next week when everybody is healthy and we get everybody back, then we can really get going,” Seward said.
The Indians went 6-3 last season, including beating Burlington and Wray in the final two weeks of the regular season, to qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 2013. The Indians then held a 14-0 lead in their playoff game at Colorado Springs Christian before losing 17-14.
Four NCC teams made the playoffs and two, Holyoke and Limon reached the semifinals, with Limon winning the title.
Despite having such a great season last year, Seward noted that Yuma team would not have made the playoffs if this year’s eight-team format in effect. He said he figures the NCC will, at most, get two teams into playoffs this year.
The playoff eight-team bracket will be set and seeded by the CHSAA Seeding Index (RPI, MaxPreps, CHSAANow coaches poll, and Packard Rankings).
“It’s just how it goes,” Seward said.
As for all the challenges facing everyone in getting this season done, Seward said, “It’s just something we have to deal with.”