Tucker Ikens makes catch during DeKalb High School football practice on Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020 in DeKalb.
Tucker Ikens makes catch during DeKalb High School football practice on Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020 in DeKalb. — Mark Black - for Shaw Media

DeKALB – Staring an uncertain future right in the face, DeKalb senior quarterback Trenton Kyler said there's no option but to be optimistic.

The Barbs used their first of 20 allotted contact days of the fall, the period in which players are allowed to be coached on sport-specific drills.

And amid marches to reinstate the fall season amid questions and doubts about if a spring season can even be played, Kyler said it was just good to be on the practice field.

"It's definitely different but we're grateful to even be on the field right now," Kyler said. "The governor could just shut this down and we could not be doing any of this. We just come out here give 110% and give it everything we got on every route."

Senior linebacker Tucker Ikens said with DeKalb still in remote learning, getting on the field was great and the energy was high.

"We get out here and get to hang out, have fun, give off energy and stuff," Ikens said. "It gets us out of the four walls and stuff. It's fun."

Head coach Keith Snyder said that mindset is all part of the 1-0 mantra he preaches to him team every day.

"We focus on what we can control and that's effort and attitude," Snyder said. "We can't control what's outside but when we get those two, two and a half hours we can control positivity and how hard you go. All you can worry about is yourself, your effort and attitude. Everything else is noise. If you buy into the noise you'll become distracted, become worried, and not be as good as you can be. You won't get that 1% better."

In a world without the novel coronavirus, the Barbs would be prepping to head to Naperville North for the first time as members of the DuPage Valley Conference in a Week 5 showdown.

Instead, they were running a summer-style practice in September.

"We just got to do what we can control," Kyler said. "We should be out here happy we're still playing football practicing cause nothing is guaranteed for us. That's all we can really do is control what we can control and not worry about anything else."

The Barbs finished 6-4 last year in coach Keith Snyder's first year, the seventh straight postseason berth for the team. DeKalb still is still looking for its first win in the 7A playoffs after going one-and-done the last two years after moving up from 6A.

Without so much as a firm schedule for the spring, Ikens said it's just a matter of staying focused in a highly fluid situation.

"You just kind of have to look into and see what happens," Ikens said "You just put in your best effort for the next season and be ready for whenever they let us come back."

Snyder said he's looking at these contact days like summer camp.

"We'll be able to get some things installed and establish a culture, who we are as a program," Snyder said. "We want to identify football players. The goal to come out of our staff meeting on Sunday over Zoom was to come up with a depth chart. We'll look at guys for accountability and reliability. Those are the kids we'll be looking to lean on come February."

Kyler said he was impressed by the condition the team was in as a whole.

"We're just trying to do better every day and build up to a spring season," Kyler said. "We need to fix the little things. If we can get a head start and get prepared for the spring season, not have to go over the little things again, that will be a good head start for the season."