After months of waiting, Wise County high schools hit the practice field all day Monday to assess talent and get in shape for the upcoming season.
Monday was the first day the University Interscholastic League (UIL) allowed schools to start practicing. Teams that did not participate in spring football – schools below the new 5A level – took the field in shorts and helmets. Teams aren’t allowed to work out in full pads until Friday.
But even without full equipment, coaches and kids were glad to be back at work.
“It’s fun. It’s something the kids get excited for,” said Paradise coach Scott Broussard. “They’ve worked really hard in off-season. This is what we’ve worked five to eight months for.”
A big part of the first day is teaching.
“Our primary focus today was to just start the process of learning and getting in shape,” said Bridgeport coach Danny Henson. “But we had a good first day today, and we’re just focused on getting ready for that first game.”
Henson will be working with a relatively young squad this year, most of whom experienced playing time as a result of the injuries that plagued last year’s 0-10 team.
The Alvord Bulldogs were up-and-at-‘em bright and early Monday morning as head coach Pete Hart focused on offense. He said his team looked “a little tired” at first, but they’re on their way to getting in good shape.
“I have a rule – I don’t blow my whistle at all,” Hart said. “Only time I do is to signal that practice is over or to tell them to get on the line and start running. They see my whistle come up, they quit loafing.”
Hart was named Alvord’s head coach three weeks ago.
Broussard and the Panthers were also on the field early Monday.
“The kids are working hard,” Broussard said. “I’m impressed with their work ethic.”
He added that the team showed a much better grasp of the offense and defense than last year.
At Chico, more than 50 players took part in the first workouts. Coach Stephen Carter said the team was busy learning a new run-oriented offense.
Decatur and Boyd were among the last teams to take the field for practice. Decatur Eagles head coach Mike Fuller started his session in the afternoon, around 4:30.
“Right now we’re just focusing on seeing what everyone can do and get in shape,” Fuller said.
Fuller became Decatur’s head coach in March and is looking to implement an entirely new offense and defense this season.
“I’m pleased with the effort. Everyone has a good attitude,” Fuller added. “We have a lot of questions to answer and a long ways to go.”
Decatur will hold an intersquad scrimmage at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. The Meet the Eagle Night will not be held with the scrimmage.
In Boyd, Hopkins said the numbers were down as 50 players turned out. He said the school has several smaller classes around a junior class that has 23 players.
“There’s 27 in the three other classes,” Hopkins said. “The sophomore class has only 60 kids and there’s not a ton of kids in the freshman class. We have eight seniors.
“We don’t have much depth. We looked good. We’re just having a problem number-wise.”
He added that much of the first workouts were focused on pace – just playing faster.
“We want to play a lot faster and practice faster,” Hopkins said. “We have great kids, and they’re buying into it.”