Football Season Kicks Off Today

Varsity

But Preparation Started Months Ago For Local Teams

August 15, 2009|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,katherine.dunn@baltsun.com

To say that today is the first day of high school football practice would be a bit misleading.

It is the first official day of practice for public school teams - in football and all other fall sports - but getting ready for the season began a long time ago. If you haven't worked hard and you show up today out of shape, your high school football career will last just hours if not minutes.

Take it from Dunbar lineman Devin Clark. The first day of football practice is no place for summer slackers.

"The offseason workouts? It was crazy. I thought practice had started," the senior said with a laugh. "Oh, my goodness. I think we're in shape now."

Dunbar coach Lawrence Smith, whose team is aiming for a fourth straight Class 1A state championship after losing 22 seniors, had his players on a strict regimen of weight training and speed and agility work all summer. The Poets also competed in four seven-on-seven tournaments.

Smith - and most other coaches - have no time to waste trying to get their guys in shape now.

"What people don't understand," Smith said, "is back in the day when I played football, you used to have a month to practice for your first game. Nowadays you don't. You start practicing on Saturday and the first scrimmage is next Saturday, the 22nd ... and everyone opens up on [Sept.] 4th or 5th.

"It's not like the Ravens and college. You don't have a month or two months to put this together. Maryland doesn't offer spring ball, so weight training, seven-on-sevens, getting your kids in [to work out], that's all the state of Maryland allows. Other states have spring ball, but you don't have that luxury in the public schools in the state of Maryland."

Arundel coach Chuck Markiewicz, whose Wildcats were Class 4A semifinalists last season, has had his guys at school lifting outside three days a week during the summer. He has already tested their conditioning, requiring 10 sprints of 100 yards in 15 seconds, each with only a 45-second break in between.

For Saturday's first practice, he'll have a combine with more testing - vertical jump, broad jump, pull-ups, bench press, 40-yard dash.

"Because we'll have a lot of people who'll think they want to play football and come out on Saturday, they have to run 10 100s because the other kids are done with that. And we'll time them, and that's how we'll pick our team. We'll rate each position," Markiewicz said.

At Hereford, where the Bulls have three state title trophies and were Class 3A semifinalists last fall, coach Steve Turnbaugh has his players on a year-round schedule that ramps up in the summer. He tested them Monday in the weight room and at sprints to make sure they are ready.

"We don't do any more conditioning once football starts," Turnbaugh said. "I can't waste a two-hour or 2 1/2-hour practice and say, 'OK, line up. We're going to do sprints.' We try to run a practice at a high-intensity tempo where they're getting their conditioning doing the specific drill. I don't believe in 'OK, practice is over. The next 15 minutes, we're going to do gassers.' To me, that's 15 minutes of wasted time. If they've been doing what they're supposed to do all summer, they're in shape."

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