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Redbank Valley Football Team Trying to Make Most of Teachers’ Strike in District

NEW BETHLEHEM, Pa. (EYT/D9) — To Bryson Bain, Friday dragged on and on and on.

The Redbank Valley senior quarterback couldn’t wait for kickoff against Brockway to arrive. But the clock — and time itself — seemed to stand still.

Bain, like all of his classmates at Redbank Valley High School, was at home all day. They’ve been home every day since the teachers in the district went on strike Sept. 13.

“It’s hard sitting around,” Bain said. “(Friday afternoon) felt like it was 20 hours long — you’re just itching to play. When you’re in school, you have other stuff on your mind so the days go faster.”

It’s an unfortunate situation for everyone in the district, and it doesn’t appear as if the work stoppage will end before Nov. 3. That’s when the Pennsylvania Department of Education said in a memo the strike would have to end in order for the mandatory 180 days of instruction to be completed before June 30.

The Redbank Valley football team, though, is attempting to use it as a positive.

The Bulldogs were first relieved the district was going to permit athletics and other extracurricular activities to continue. Then, the team began to focus on how it could use the strike to their advantage.

“We basically said, ‘Hey, you’re nothing but ballplayers now,’” said Redbank Valley football coach Blane Gold. “This is the closest thing you’ll ever be to being a professional athlete. They don’t have any school responsibilities.”

Another big positive is COVID-19 avoidance.

While other schools in District 9 and across the state and nation have had to deal with outbreaks and quarantines, that hasn’t been an issue for the football team so far.

“I would probably be hating this right now if it weren’t for COVID,” Gold said. “You don’t have to worry about contact tracing. We’re doing everything we can outside because if we’re outside we can spread out, which is less likely to contact trace. So, we have to use it as an advantage, as tricky as it is.”

Bain sees the pros and cons of the situation.

The advantages are obvious.

“COVID is probably the biggest plus,” Bain said. “We don’t have to worry as much about that. Lots of guys are staying in the weight room and focusing on staying at the top of our performance. You are basically a professional athlete.”

Bain pauses and grins. “It’s like living the NFL dream.”

There are also negatives, however. While everyone else will be enjoying summer vacation, Bain and his classmates will be in school through June. Bain’s graduation will also be much later.

“When we all heard about it, ask anyone, we were like, ‘Oh, cool! No school,’” Bain said. “But it’s hard. But you can’t control it. You just have to make the most of it, and I think we are.”

RIDGWAY NO LONGER AMONG THE UNBEATEN — DuBois pulled off the biggest upset of Week 5 when it knocked off the Elkers, 21-6.

Quarterback Cam-ron Hays tossed a pair of touchdown passes to Derraick Burkett to key the DuBois victory.

Ridgway (4-1) struggled on offense all night. The Elkers got half their yards on one play early in the game — a 55-yard touchdown pass from Cameron Larkin to Will Howard.

DuBois has now won two straight after an 0-3 start.

ACT FIVE OF THE NOAH LENT SHOW — Smethport quarterback Noah Lent continued to put up gaudy statistics, accounting for more than 400 yards and eight touchdowns in the Hubbers’ 56-18 win over Otto-Eldred.

Lent rushed for 277 yards and five touchdowns. He also threw for 159 yards and three scores.

The senior now has 918 yards and 16 touchdowns on just 88 carries. He’s also thrown for 678 yards and 13 more TDs for Smethport.

Lent and Smethport (5-0) will host Redbank Valley Friday.