Rain can't slow season preparations
The area needs rain to battle ongoing drought conditions, and lots of needed moisture arrived in North Texas throughout the last week.
But what’s good for soils, vegetation and reservoirs may not necessarily be helpful for high school football teams, but teams adjusted when heavy rains fell early Monday, relocating for short spells to gyms for practice.
The first day of practice Aug. 6 saw scorching temperatures in the 100-degree range, but the weather turned to relatively mild the rest of the week and some practices were done under cloud cover.
"RAINING LIKE CRAZY"
“The whole deal is, we got practice started, and it was raining like crazy,” Bearcat coach Danny David said Monday morning after practice. “Well, there was lighting, and once there was lightning, we’ve got 30 minutes [to wait after lightning sightings]. That would have just put us behind, so we just went into the gym today.”
He added that a change of scenery is not necessarily a bad thing when players went to the gym. The team was able to do the same kinds of drills it did outside. He said the high school softball field can be an option when the weather becomes clear but the practice fields are too wet to use for practice.
David said the first week of practice went “pretty good,” although the program didn’t reach the numbers he had hoped.
“But the kids that were here, they got after it,” he said. “They came in in pretty good shape.”
Players had a good week of practice last week, especially with exhibiting effort and learning schemes, David said.
“Everybody looks like world-beaters when they’re in shorts and helmets and stuff like that,” he said, adding he was “pleasantly surprised” by players’ work and physicality on Saturday morning, too.
About 60 to 65 players are in the program, both varsity and sub-varsity, David said. He expects to field one JV team. The Bearcats scrimmage Gainesville at home Friday and then will be at Sanger for a scrimmage Thursday before the team travels to Bridgeport for their season opener Aug. 31.
“We pray that everybody stays healthy and we’ll continue to move forward,” he said.
In Aubrey, coach Keith Ivy reports the rain was not as much of a bother to his practice as the lightning.
“We had a couple of lightning strikes early before our scheduled 6 a.m. practice, so that kind of postponed it a little bit,” he said Monday afternoon. “Just to err on the safe side, we decided to go over to the gym and run our first half of practice. By that point, all the rain had passed through for the most part. It still sprinkled on us a little bit [later, at the stadium], but the bad weather – the lighting and all that – had passed.”
The field at Chaparral Stadium drains quickly, but if there’s a torrential rain, some water will gather on the surface, Ivy said.
As for practice itself the first week, Ivy liked the players’ enthusiasm, energy and excitement. Participation number for the program was 120, the largest number Ivy has seen in his five years at Aubrey. Previously, the record number was 110-112. These numbers include varsity and junior varsity.
“Really, the main point we’re trying to emphasize right now is the competition,” he said. “It’s a battle for positions. We still at this point have some jobs that are up in the air. We’re hoping that somebody will step up and claim those spots.”
At some positions, the roster is three or four people deep, Ivy said.
“We’ve just got to find kids who want to take ownership in those positions,” he said, noting that was “the fun part” about this stage of the process.
And that is where scrimmages come in handy, Ivy said, as coaches don’t really know enough about players until they face competition on the field outside their own team.
“We’re excited about Saturday just to kind of see where we’re at,” Ivy said.
The Chaparrals face Anna at home Saturday and then travel to Mabank for their second scrimmage Aug. 23.
PLAYING WITH THE BIG BOYS
In Tioga, coach Cody Patton said he had 35 boys show up for the first week of practice.
“It’s looking like it’s probably going to be 18 to 20 on varsity and around 15 to 16 on JV,” Patton said.
He commended the players’ attitudes and effort.
“They’ve been showing up every day getting after it and trying to get better for the season,” he said.
The Bulldogs will field an 11-man team this year, making the transition from the six-man teams they had success with in previous years. Tioga advanced to the state semifinals last year.
“The six-man [game] was fun, but it’s so exciting to finally be 11-man and get to play with the big boys,” he said.
Although competition remains keen at, say, Aubrey, Tioga encounters a different situation.
“Our depth is pretty limited, so we’re just having to plug people in there and see who’s going to fight when it’s on the line,” Patton said. “You know, just like any team, you can look early in the season and then later on, when you get into district, everybody’s split positions and stuff like. But that’s our job as coaches to try to find those kids. And we’ll start that pretty heavily on Friday on our first scrimmage and hopefully we can get it figured out and put them in the right places before week six when we start district.”
For the scrimmage Friday against Clarksville in Bogata, he said he just wants to see which players will get “their nose in there and get with it.” This scrimmage will be especially important in evaluating linemen because coaches get to see if they back down or are aggressive, Patton said.
Tioga plays at Electra in its second scrimmage Aug. 24. Patton is eager to see his team in action against another school.
“I’m just really proud of the guys’ effort,” he said. “We’ve got three or four seniors that have never played before because they’re your bigger line kids. They have really stepped it up this summer as far as coming to summer workouts and working on their feet and becoming [experienced] as far as blocking and stuff like that.”