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BG graduate content to wait to play

Andrew Irwin

Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic graduate Andrew Irwin had a pretty good idea the Ivy League’s announcement that it would not play football this fall due to the coronavirus pandemic was coming.

After playing in 19 games over his first three seasons at Harvard, Irwin was in position to compete for a starting job at linebacker this year as a senior.

“We started expecting it after Dartmouth came out and said they were only going to have half of their students on campus,” Irwin said. “Then Yale and Princeton said basically the same thing, and then Harvard also said 50 percent on campus. Then we were told there would be an announcement (Wednesday), so we were kind of expecting it, unfortunately.”

That didn’t make the announcement any easier, but Irwin is willing to wait for his opportunity.

“It’s definitely frustrating, but there’s not much we can do about it,” Irwin said. “This isn’t how I saw my senior year turning out, but I’m just glad I’ll be able to save my eligibility and still be able to play eventually.”

For that to happen, it means Irwin won’t be returning to school this fall. Instead, he plans on living with some of his teammates and working out while looking for jobs and waiting for football to resume.

“I guess there’s some possibility of a spring season happening,” Irwin said. “Whether that is feasible, as they put it, I don’t know. We’re kind of just waiting. You have to graduate in eight semesters, so I won’t be going back to school this fall to keep my eligibility. I won’t go back to school until the spring of 2021 so that I can play either this spring or more likely, next fall.”

Irwin said it’s likely all his teammates won’t feel the same way.

“Some kids probably won’t do it that don’t play,” Irwin said. “They may say they have had enough and just graduate, but I’m basically walking into a starting role, so I’m definitely going to take the time off and train to get ready, whether that’s the spring of 2021 or the fall of 2021, I want to play.”

The announcement left many wondering about whether any college football will be played this fall. Several major conferences made changes to their schedules Thursday. More announcements are scheduled for the coming week.

“As a leadership group, we have a responsibility to make decisions that are in the best interest of the students who attend our institutions, as well as the faculty and staff who work at our schools. These decisions are extremely difficult, particularly when they impact meaningful student-athlete experiences that so many value and cherish,” the Ivy League Council of Presidents said in a statement released Wednesday. “With the information available to us today regarding the continued spread of the virus, we simply do not believe we can create and maintain an environment for intercollegiate athletic competition that meets our requirements for safety and acceptable levels of risk, consistent with the policies that each of our schools is adopting as part of its reopening plans this fall.

“We are entrusted to create and maintain an educational environment that is guided by health and safety considerations. There can be no greater responsibility — and that is the basis for this difficult decision.”

Irwin said he supports the Ivy League’s decision and that playing football in an empty stadium wouldn’t be the same.

“For me, if you can’t play with fans, even though we only get about 10,000 fans at a home game, I just don’t think it’s the same,” Irwin said. “So, if I have to wait six months to a year to play with fans my last year, I’m OK with it. It definitely stinks how the cases have went in the United States. It was a difficult decision for the Ivy League, and I think there’s a lot of liability at play.”

Irwin won three PIAA championships during his time at Bishop Guilfoyle in 2014, 2015 and 2016. He’s hoping the Marauders, last year’s PIAA Class 1A runner-up with plenty of talent returning, don’t face the same fate as Harvard.

“I think high school is a little different,” Irwin said. “Locally, the cases haven’t been too bad at all. I think the biggest difference from college to high school is that we could be traveling to Philadelphia, to New Jersey, to New Haven all across the coast and over state lines. The majority of the high school season is played within a 30-mile radius, so I’m pretty confident that will happen. I hope so, especially for those guys. Runner-up last year, and I’m sure they have a chip on their shoulder they want to make right.”

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