Coaches and players said that even as temperatures reached the mid-90s most of the week and hit triple digits Thursday, there were few surprises to greet them on their return to the field. For that, they credited a summer of practices, team camps and conditioning workouts.
“Our kids worked really hard this summer,” said Matt Shrout, Tracy High head coach. “I think every one of them was here almost every day, and it shows. We had nobody throwing up during conditioning, we had nobody quitting on drills. I think we’re in better shape than we have been in a couple years.”
The California Interscholastic Federation’s Sac-Joaquin Section lifted its three-week “dead period” on Monday.
Players could still work out on the field and in the weight room during the dead period, but Monday was the first day they could run through plays with the ball. Football teams put on their full pads and helmets Wednesday.
Kimball High senior wide receiver and safety Charles Walker said the first week was still a tough workout, as players got into a new routine.
“Definitely a lot of conditioning,” he said. “Everybody coming back, we’re not in the best shape that we were, so they’re definitely going to push us. I wouldn’t be surprised if we ran the bleachers.”
West High senior fullback D.J. Villasenor said players step up the intensity of practices once they put on all their gear.
“It takes a while to get used to running with pads again,” he said. “Everyone will be able to handle it, and the coaches will stay on us.”
West offensive coach Charles Spikes said players would also have to be mindful of the heat, which reached triple digits Thursday and is expected to hit close to the century mark again Friday.
“They’ve just got to learn to practice in the heat and take care of their bodies, staying hydrated and knowing when to practice and when to sit down,” Spikes said.
Practices start a week before school at Tracy, West and Kimball high schools, but at Millennium High, the players for the local charter school were also in their first week of classes, which began Monday, Aug. 6.
“It’s always hectic the first day, trying to get organized,” said Falcons senior center Jacob Eakin. “There’s just a lot of new players, people learning and getting it down.”
He added that most players go directly from class to the field, but as a senior, he doesn’t have a full class schedule and gets a break in the middle of the day.
“I can clear my head and get things together, things I need to get done,” he said.
Tracy junior running back and safety Eric Hawkins said the summer of workouts also helped him make the transition to the faster pace of varsity football.
“In the summer, it was four days a week, since the last day of school. Now it’s five days a week,” he said, adding that players are in for long days when Tracy Unified School District classes start Monday, Aug. 13.
“When school starts, it’s just go to school, and then after school, it’s practice until about 6. It’s a little tough, but you get through it.”
• Contact Bob Brownne at 830-4227 or firstname.lastname@example.org.