Unable to wear anything more than a helmet all summer, players were finally able to don their pads and begin practicing at full force.
For Sequoyah coach James Teter, having the players finally able to run full-contact drills helped the coaching staff determine where the team stood after summer practices.
“We’ve been practicing all summer, but you just can’t do too much,” Teter said. “This gave them a chance to hit each other a little bit and get to know each other, to know what the guy next to them is going to play like.”
Teter’s goal was to reinforce the ideas he and his assistants had preached all summer.
“We just wanted to see if what we’d done all summer had sunk in or not,” Teter said.
With a team that started seven sophomores last year, Teter hopes to find that his younger players have started to mature. He expressed his satisfaction with the team’s effort Wednesday.
“I think our kids, attitude-wise and effort-wise, gave a great effort out there. They are doing what they are supposed to be doing.”
The coach of Sequoyah’s archrival expects that his team will show signs of development within the next few days.
“The last five summer workout days, we focused heavily on the kicking game,” Creekview coach Al Morrell said. “Now, we can focus more on offense and defense. We plan on working on the fundamentals, the keys and the signs on both sides of the ball. We are looking to improve.”
For River Ridge coach Robert Braucht, full-contact practice meant his players could finally work on something they hadn’t been allowed to do all summer — their tackling.
“Tackling is the focus of the day,” Braucht said. “The last five days, we’ve tried to mirror the real thing, but it’s hard to do when you cannot make contact. (On Wednesday), there is going to be plenty of hitting. Everybody is going to learn exactly how to tackle, how to maintain form and how to use proper technique. Honestly, the team is just excited to get out there. They just want to show us where they’re at and where they are in the line up. It’s important to them.”
Braucht acknowledged that the biggest obstacle the players had to overcome on their first day of practice — besides each other — was the humid summer heat.
“Our young guys may have been dreading (practice) a bit,” Braucht said. “Not because they had to start hitting each other, but because of the heat.”
With the day’s high easily breaking 90 degrees, many of the county’s teams still had some players — primarily freshmen who were unable to work out with the team previously — only wearing helmets and shorts.
“Many of the freshmen were absent this summer,” Morrell said. “Because of the heat requirements, they still have to have their five required days of heat acclimation before we can put their pads on them.”
For Creekview’s returning quarterback, Hayden Hall, the heat was just another part of the practice.
“We’ve been practicing in the heat all summer, so were used to it,” Hall said. “The guys were just ready to get out there and hit someone.”
When asked if wearing his full set of pads made the heat much worse, Hall was reluctant to admit the effect it had on him.
“It hasn’t affected me to much,” he said, before adding, with a smile, “Well, just a little bit. Still, this is what we came out here for.”