If you are a high school football fan like I am – Christmas in August is upon us as schools hit the field Monday for the start of two-a-days.
In truth, few schools now use two-a-day workouts, and many coaches have gone to what is referred to as a “long-a-day.” Generally, the morning being reserved for athletic exercises, team drills and schemes, and the latter part of the day (11-1) concentrating on weight lifting. Coaches may throw in some final sprints to loosen players up before sending them home for the day.
While players are headed to work or other activities, their coaches will be busy in meetings and holding after-action reviews of practice.
Of course, there are many variations of how coaching staffs prepare for the upcoming season, and each of the seven schools in the local area has its own unique challenge this year.
The challenge for coach Gerald Perry and Mineral Wells is about being able to mature quickly as the Rams are the youngest they have been in his six-year tenure. Being young is not good news for the Rams, who are in a highly competitive district where they are picked to finish last.
Topping things off is Mineral Wells has lost at least three starters due to moveouts and will also be adjusting its offense with two coordinators and Perry starting out calling the plays. The Rams’ success will depend on how well younger players fill the holes, and things could be rough early on.
Strawn and coach Dewaine Lee also have their challenges, and it’s on the opposite end of the spectrum from Mineral Wells as the Greyhounds are trying to figure out how to stay on top of the six-man football world.
Lee has led the Greyhounds to back-to-back state titles and had a strong junior varsity last year. A third-straight title will put Strawn in legendary status in Texas as only two other schools have gone beyond winning back-to-back championships.
When it comes to Perrin-Whitt, coach Ben Staggs and the Pirates have the challenge of moving beyond being competitive and winning playoff games at the six-man level. Dropping down from 11-man football, the Pirates sailed six-man waters for the first time last season and just missed the playoffs.
Dropping a game to Bryson was a bitter pill to swallow after the Pirates had dominated them during summer-league six-on-six football and Perrin-Whitt is anxious to get that first 1-A playoff win under their belts.
Over in Santo, coach Devon Mann has the Wildcats looking like an Army unit as they come off a season that saw them go into the area round of the playoffs. Last year was a great success, but there is a considerable monkey the Wildcats would like to get off their backs, and that’s not having won a district title in 25 years.
Santo came all so close last season before Windthorst snatched away a win in the final 16 seconds of play. The Wildcats are picked to win it all this year, and they’d like nothing better than to live up to the challenge of winning a district title outright.
For coach Jake Johnson and Millsap, the challenge of 2019 is taking the Bulldogs one step further than last year. The Wildcats’ coach may like quality over quantity, but low numbers spell trouble in district play where larger schools like Comanche, Jacksboro, and Dublin who all beat Millsap by a single point last year.
The Bulldogs were 3-8, 2-3 last season and could easily have been 6-5 and 5-0 in the district. Getting into the playoffs won’t quench Millsap’s desire because the Bulldogs feel like they should have gotten there last year.
Coach Mike Reed is entering his second year at Gordon, and the former Longhorn wants to return his alma mater to their former glory. The biggest problem being is Gordon’s student population is half the size it was when it won state titles in 1996 and 1999.
Reed’s high school and coaching pedigree (two state titles at Throckmorton) suggest one of the biggest games of the season will be when the Longhorns hook up against Strawn in what may be a contest for the district championship.
For the Community Christian and coach Bryan Horton, the 2019 season will be about re-establishing the Warriors’ winning legacy as six-man football returns to the school. The Warriors will be young and will need to find the right set of skill players to be successful.
Horton called the move to bring back the school’s football program a “leap of faith” and the young Warriors showing are going to get plenty of playing time. They also might learn how David felt when taking on Goliath, but we all know what happened when David kept the faith.