On one side, it’s just another day of practice for players. But it also signifies that games are right around the corner.
“It’s the reason you play football. Obviously you want to be part of the team, but what it comes down to is you want to put pads on and knock someone around out there,” Reed football coach Ernie Howren said. “On the first day of pads, it’s only a matter of time before you are competing against other teams. After so many days of practicing twice a day and beating up each other, you want to see a different color jersey across from you.”
Football squads will have five days of full-contact workouts before most will scrimmage Saturday and then open the regular season the following week.
That doesn’t give teams many days of full contact before they face opponents. Does that bother some coaches? It can to a point.
For coaches who run summer programs, it can be frustrating to be forced to run three days of practice without pads. These programs just continue working on the same things they focused on during the summer workouts, which can seem redundant.
The acclimation period required across the state is to make sure every team is on the same level when the season starts because not everyone can run summer workouts. It takes time for players to get up to the proper conditioning level for football.
“I think the three days is good because it depends on how you run your summer program and where you’re at. It has to be a state thing because the schools who don’t do anything during the summer need these three days to do conditioning and stuff before they put the pads on,” veteran Sparks coach Rob Kittrell said. “The ideal situation would be to run your summer program to Monday and then put pads on Thursday, but until everyone in the state is doing that, it’s not going to happen.”
But without this required acclimation period, football likely would be forced to start official practices on the Monday with the rest of the fall sports, so complaining or fighting for change might be a double-edged sword.
“The acclimation period made more sense when there weren’t summer programs because we’ve been practicing hard all summer,” SSHS coach Scott Hare said. “These three days are for everyone to get in shape, but we’ve run 60 hours during the summer, so we’re already in shape. At the same time, I wouldn’t complain because technically fall sports doesn’t start until Monday. They could just say we don’t need them anymore so you have to start on Monday like everyone else.”