Cole Foley, a junior offensive lineman at Davidson, called it “reward soreness” when he woke up Sunday morning.
Davidson played its first of seven games in a spring football season Saturday, losing to No. 21-ranked Elon 26-23.
Foley, a Winston-Salem native and Mount Tabor graduate, said that on a scale of 1 to 10 on soreness, he was at about a 12.
"Yes, I'm hurting," he said.
That soreness was worth it, however, because the fun part of football had finally arrived with an actual game.
Foley, who is 6 feet 3 and around 290 pounds, played every offensive snap Saturday as the Wildcats amassed more than 400 yards of offense against a top 25 program.
“It felt amazing,” said Foley, who last played when Davidson lost to Drake 31-28 on Nov. 23, 2019.
“How many days has that been?” he asked. “It felt like an eternity.”
Senior defensive end James Boyle, who is from Advance and is a Davie County High School graduate, also played for Davidson.
The Wildcats, who play in a non-scholarship league, were 8-4 last season and have high expectations this spring. The Pioneer League champion will earn a berth in the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs.
The luxury for the Wildcats is having had a full fall practice schedule with 15 practices and a scrimmage. And while the Football Bowl Subdivision played its season in the fall, most FCS programs are playing now.
“It was tough to watch all those games in the fall,” Foley said. “But I’m just thankful we get a chance to be out there.”
Foley said Davidson endured a couple of COVID cases within the program but nothing that caused extended time for lost practices. Foley said the team was practicing safe social distancing and staying away from large groups whenever possible.
“We all just realize that if we want to play we have to be smart,” Foley said. “I hardly get to see my girlfriend (a field hockey player at Davidson), but those are the sacrifices we all have to make.”
Foley said that the Wildcats get tested twice a week on Mondays and Thursdays for COVID-19, which he says is now a part of their routine during game weeks. During Saturday's game the players didn't wear masks while on the field but did on the sidelines.
As for playing that first football game in 455 days, Foley said the soreness will go away but the memory will last a long time.
“We are competitive and wanted to win because that’s why you play the game,” Foley said, "but overall being out there and playing was such a reward for all the hard work we did last fall and into this spring. I could definitely tell we were all excited to be out there again.”