Many high school football teams will spend more time outside on the field than inside the gym this week gearing up for official practices, but it isn't anything out of the norm.
Conditioning -- particularly in the heat -- is a summer-long process. "Most of us are out there all summer anyway," Captain Shreve coach Richard Lary said. "From June 1 until now, we've been outside running in it and working in it. Hopefully we're already acclimated."
Because of this trend, this time of year isn't solely about heat acclimation anymore. While this week is a continuation of summer drills, offenses and defenses are installed along with huddle preparation. With the focus on seven-on-seven play during the summer, many skilled players are further along than linemen. Official practices start Aug. 6, and since the first three days of those practices serve as heat acclimation, teams won't be in pads until Aug. 9. "With me, it's different, I don't have a lot of big kids," Loyola head coach Steven Geter said. "I think I have one kid that weighs over 250 pounds. For our linemen, it doesn't take as long (to condition them), but I'm sure with other schools, it takes their big boys a little bit longer." Geter said he still made sure his linemen conditioned 45 minutes to an hour while his team was playing seven-on-seven this summer. "My first year as a head coach, I was just worried about seven-on-seven," Geter said. "I just worked out my linemen then realized they were so far behind. Now, we break up our linemen into groups and have different drills. They get that unity as a defensive lineman/offensive lineman." Many coaches agree this week is particularly important because the linemen and skilled positions can come together again to work on consistency. Not all teams will be using this week the same way. Northwood coach Jim Gatlin said many of his varsity players will coach younger players in clinics and camps this week. "I think sometimes we beat these kids into the ground and make it where it's not fun for them when we do too much," Gatlin said. "But if you're not doing seven-on-seven and you're not taking them here or there, another school is." Airline coach Bo Meeks followed Gatlin's approach this summer. "We tried to give our kids a little more time off this summer," said Meeks, whose team had a light load entering this week. "We do feel like with the year-round routine that we have that it is better to give them time off to make sure their batteries are charged, and they're not being overworked." The Vikings will work on special teams from 8-9 a.m. then hit the field from 10-12 this week. Like the other Bossier Parish schools, Airline is operating on a tighter schedule. Bossier schools start on Aug. 9, just three days into official practices. "It would be nice to have a little more time between the actual start of practices and when school starts just to have that longer period of time to concentrate just on football," Meeks said. "We'll roll with it. Most everything (offense and defense) we have in already." Regardless of what you do with this week, one thing is clear: football is here. "The summer flew by," Meeks said. "Everybody is fired up." Connect with Kelly Morris on Twitter at @Kelly_Mo.