CONCORD (KPIX) — Mt. Diablo High School in Concord opened its football season at home Friday. Many on the team doubted this night would ever come. The pandemic took a toll on the players and the coach was left wondering how many of his kids would be able to play ball.

“Honestly it was hard,” Coach Donald James said. “A lot of kids have been picking up jobs, a lot of kids were dealing with financial problems at home.”

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The pandemic hasn’t been easy for some of the Red Devils players, especially for the seniors with dreams of playing football at the next level.

“My heart goes out to a lot of seniors. I know a lot of kids don’t have scholarships and this is their way out,” Coach DJ added.

David Clark is a senior who couldn’t be more grateful to be back on the gridiron.

“Three months ago, I thought I was never going to play football,” Clark said.

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Clark is the lucky one. He is the first player from Mt. Diablo to earn a scholarship to play college football.

“It’s big for him, to see a dream turn into reality, it’s huge for him,” Coach DJ said.

“My senior year, I didn’t want to go without a season so I’m glad we’re playing now,” Clark said.

Also Friday a swift reversal by the state allowed cheerleaders back on the sidelines. California Department of Public Health had banned what it called “supporters” from being on the sidelines but, on Friday, ruled sideline cheer is comparable to a moderate contact sport.

“The resilience I’ve seen from this group makes me proud to be their coach,” said Alexandra Herman, a cheer coach from Foothill High.

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The football team took a COVID-19 test on Monday and all of the results came back negative.