Workouts on the local practice fields continued through the first full week of school, and on Thursday players put on pads for the first time this year and got into the hard hits and tackles that define their game.
For coaches, it meant that one day of practice turned out to be a little more hectic than most. The California Interscholastic Federation allowed two hours of full-equipment practice Thursday during a week when most team meetings were limited to preseason conditioning workouts.
Tracy coach Mark Stroup and West coach Steve Lopez said that time included searches for missing or lost equipment and uniforms as well as equipment repairs.
“Different faces, same issues,” Stroup said, adding that a photo shoot for the team’s program also took up part of Thursday’s practice, so there wasn’t much chance for him to see how his team looks suited up.
“We’ll know more on Monday, once we get into the routine of practicing with the pads,” he said.
The benefit for the Bulldogs is that despite the loss of some of last year’s key seniors, the team has a large contingent of returning players who will take up positions on both sides of the ball. Stroup estimates he has about a half-dozen offensive players who were starters last year, and even more experienced players on defense.
Now he just has to worry about depth at each position.
“We’re a little shallow on offensive line,” he said. “We’ve got some holes to fill.”
Lopez said West has many unknowns this year, with only a few returning starters and a lot of seniors who didn’t haven’t seen much playing time.
West players made the most of their two hours of Thursday practice with full-contact plays. Lopez said coaches finally got to see the lessons taught over the summer put into practice.
Still, he figures it will take another week of practice and the team’s Blue/Gold scrimmage on Friday, Aug. 28, to see who emerges as the team’s starters.
“We haven’t seen a lot yet, so there are no real surprises yet. Just trying to survive this first week is the main thing,” Lopez said.
“Some of the ones we knew were going to be good will still be good, but we’ve got to work on everybody. Everybody’s got to get better.”