It was the second Friday of his senior season at Chestatee and linebacker Chase Vasser had nothing to do.
His War Eagles were coming off a 35-0 loss to Gainesville, and instead of strapping on the helmet and lacing up the cleats to rebound from the loss, Vasser and his Chestatee teammates had to sit idly by while every school around them was playing football.
That’s what happens when your team has a bye week. It gives players a week off to rest, relax or, in most cases, become a scout.
The majority of them spend their free Friday night at a place they spend every other Friday night, at a football stadium. Some are there to watch their friends play, some are there to scout a future opponent, but all are there because there’s no other place they’d rather be.
“If I don’t hang out with my family or go visit my brother in college, I’ll just go watch one of the games,” said Vasser, who spent his off week this year watching the Buford-North Hall game. While the game featured a ton of offense from Buford, Vasser couldn’t fully enjoy the contest.
“It feels awkward because you want to be on the field, but you’re in the stands,” Vasser said.
Vasser was not the only War Eagle watching uneasily from the stands at a local stadium. Nearly 75 percent of his teammates were either at the Buford game, or somewhere else around the county watching a game.
“I expect them to watch other games in the county,” Chestatee coach Stan Luttrell said.
After all, that’s what will benefit the players in the long run.
“I usually go and study the team we’re about to play,” Chestatee quarterback Ethan Souther said.
“Watch them, and watch their tendencies. Anything to get an edge.”
While most idle players are scouting future opponents, some are just attending games to watch quality football.
“I just go to Flowery Branch or Gainesville games and watch some of these good teams compete,” Johnson’s Mick Shannon said.
Spending their free time watching football may be a great idea to most of the players, but when every Friday night in the fall of their young adult life is spent on a football field, some players want nothing to do with the game.
“I’m not going to watch another football game,” said Gainesville linebacker Brock Boleman, whose team is on bye this week. “I’m gonna take my mind off football.
“I’ll go hang out with some friends, probably do something chill, nothing too crazy,” he added. “Maybe watch a TV show and sit on a couch.”
Or maybe he’ll do what every other boy his age does every Friday night.
“Maybe I’ll chase some girls, but not catch any,” Boleman said.
Johnson’s Justin Hadden has the same idea.
“I just like to hang out with my friends or with pretty much any one that I can find that wants to have a good time,” he said. “Maybe chill with some girls, I don’t know.
“I just keep ‘em guessing and do whatever I want to do.”
That freedom is a rare luxury.
“It’s a good feeling knowing you have a week off just to chill,” North Hall’s Jackson Kearns said.
Kearns' coach does not share that sentiment.
“I don’t like an open week at all,” North Hall head coach Bob Christmas said. “The kids get in the mode of competition, and when you get to that open week that level of intensity wanes.
“Coming off an open week you go backward.”
Regardless of whether or not he likes the bye week, Christmas, like his coaching peers use the free week to work on areas of improvement.
“You’ve got to work on things that you don’t have time to work on during a normal week,” Gainesville coach Bruce Miller said. “One or two days you really need to get back to fundamentals. And if you’re going to instill new things for late in the year, the off week is when you do that.”
But Miller knows it can’t be all about football.
“You gotta give your kids some rest,” he said. “It’s a long season and you have to back off a bit.”
The week off is nice, but not as nice as playing the game you love.
“It’s always good to get some rest but of course you miss it,” North Hall running back Ethan Satterfield said. “Friday night is what you practice hard for every week. It’s hard to realize you’re not playing (that night) because that’s what you always do.”
Except for that one night a season when your team is on bye.