Ghosts make long-awaited return to football


Arnav Kumar, Ak Flixs, @ak.flixs on Instagram

WA Grey Ghosts gather around Coach Rich during the Dracut game.

Unnati Bhat, Social Networking and Multimedia Editor

Football is a staple of American high school; Whether someone plays the sport, attends games, or cheers on the team, football touches the majority of students at Westford Academy.

The WA Football Team, the Grey Ghosts, had their first game last Friday, Sept. 10, against Dracut. This was the first public football game since 2019 at Westford Academy. The stands were packed and the student section was loud and excited. Many students were decked out in red, white, and blue for the USA spirit theme.

In years past the Grey Ghosts were led by Coach Patrick Gendron, who has been part of coaching WA football for over 15 years. Coaching under Gendron these past 10 years was Assistant Coach Bruce Rich. Rich has been made head coach for this school year onward, following the departure of Gendron.

“Coach Gendron has been very helpful throughout this transition. He not only answers any questions I have but joins me at some of the practices and helps on D Lines. So he’s been he’s been tremendous. When he was head coach and it came to tough decisions he would talk it out with me as well, so that gave me some experience prior to accepting this position,” Rich said.

The past year has been difficult; with football practices being limited to once a week, no games, masked practices and workouts, and a smaller team, The Ghosts were dealt a bad hand.  Despite these setbacks, the team was able to adapt in order to prepare for this season.

“Because the season last year was shortened, we were actually working out all winter long. So as far as game experience goes, we can build that up, but as far as practice and individual skills, I think we’re right on track,” Rich said.

The effect of COVID-19 on day-to-day life is not lost on WA Football. Even this year the pandemic is something to be cautious about, but not fear.

“We know we’re going to have kids out because of COVID or because they were in close contact. So we just can’t let it bring us down, and the good news is that we have most kids that we’ve had in a couple of years, so our depth is really good. So if we do lose a kid because he’s a close contact, then we feel comfortable that the second guy in line and even the third guy will be able to step up,” Rich said.

With the season back into full swing, this means games will continue to be back as well. With the recent win of 25-8 against Dracut, WA is off to a great start for this coming season. Although COVID-19 took away time, it also garnered a greater appreciation for their sport, and varsity player and junior Drew Wilson attests to this.

“It’s been great to be back in the locker room with my boys, it’s a great atmosphere now, without the mask on the field it’s a lot easier to play, things feel a lot more normal and I’m looking forward to the season. I missed it,” Wilson said.

Additionally, COVID-19 has unified the team unlike before, as players related to shared experiences brought on by a year without football. Senior varsity player Malcom Mujuzi spoke about how the team decided to come together in times of weakness rather than take time off.

“We worked out together, we stayed in constant contact, [and] we all have group chats and all that. So, COVID has made our team stronger in the sense that we are a lot closer. While COVID definitely gave us some weaknesses, it’s also made us stronger because we’ve connected a lot more,” Mujuzi said.

When it comes to the return to normalcy, players, such as varsity junior Ben Mulgrew, are eager to see what they can do this season on the field.

“Everyone’s fired up about it; we’re all just trying to get back to the normal stuff and it’s great that we can all be around each other and just play regular football without masks. It’s great to actually get in and play; [it’s] something we’ve been waiting  a while for,” Mulgrew said.

The Grey Ghosts hope to continue their streak next Friday in a home game against Concord Carlisle. The team hopes to not only improve in their unity and skill, but also in their trust in one another, in order to have a successful season.

“Trust in one another will be important for us, to believe in each other, have each other’s back and just work together, that’s what we hope to see more of this season, because that’s what really makes a team work,” said Rich.