GRANDVILLE, Mich. — After not fielding a varsity team last fall due to low numbers, the Calvin Christian football program is back this season.
"I think it was the right decision overall as a program to get some of the younger guys some reps against guys their age," said Squires head coach, Dan Kapenga.
In fact, this fall will be the first time in six years that the program will field both a junior varsity and varsity team in the same season.
The returning players say last season was definitely interesting.
"It was kind of weird, after freshman year I played on varsity and it felt like a huge step up from middle school," said junior linebacker and left tackle, Josiah Campbell, "then going back down to JV it seemed almost easier, you were just playing smaller kids and it felt really different."
Junior quarterback and safety, Paul Bouma IV says a lot of the players have taken on a recruiting role when it comes to trying to get more players from their hallways.
"I'm constantly trying to get people out here and grow our team because the more people we have the more successful we'll be," Bouma IV said, "it's just different than bigger schools."
The Squires have around 36 combined players between their varsity and junior varsity program, a majority of them being juniors that are beyond excited to play on the big stage.
"Oh I'm so excited for it," Campbell smiled, "playing underneath the Friday night lights, playing against teams in the conference for an actual chance at playoffs."
Kapenga enters year number five as head coach at Calvin and says despite their numbers remaining low, the dedication is growing within the program.
"The nice thing is the guys that we do have are here and committed," he told FOX 17, "so we're excited about the guys that we've got and we'll keep going to battle with the guys that we have."
The Squires will return to the OK Silver where their last conference title came in 2013 in a three-way share with Hopkins and NorthPointe Christian.
While they understand the difficulty of making a big jump this fall, they're excited to return to conference play.
"There are a lot of good teams in the Silver, so we know we have our work cut out for us but we're excited to get back into league play, obviously our biggest concern is and will continue to be our numbers, we have to stay healthy," said Kapenga.
The team may be young but that doesn't mean the expectations will be lowered one bit.
"We've got the guys, we've got the talent, we've got the heart," said Campbell, "we just need the energy to stay out there the whole game."
The Squires will host St. Louis on Thursday, August 26 to kickoff the 2021 campaign.