Football: Midnight practice on tap for some as workouts begin

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Al Key/DRC
Krum coach Gary Robinson encourages his defense to go after a fumble during last year’s season-opening midnight practice Aug. 5 in Krum.

Anticipation of the start of football season starts at different times for different people.

For some, it’s when the calendar flips from July to August. Others get the itch around the end of spring practice, while others were ready for the season when the last one ended.

That anxiousness will be laid to rest this week for many folks.

Monday marks the first day when schools that did not partake in spring football practice can begin conditioning. Friday is the first day those teams are allowed to make contact in practice.

Schools that opted to take advantage of the three-week spring session cannot begin football drills until Aug. 11.

First-year Ryan head coach Dave Henigan continued the school’s tradition of refraining from spring practice. The result is an eager group of students and coaches ready to hit the practice fields.

“That’s what happens when you don’t have spring ball,” Henigan said. “Your kids are chomping at the bit more than they normally are — coaches and kids. When you don’t have it and you haven’t put pads on since last season, it makes it that much more exciting.”

The University Interscholastic League only allows Class 5A and 6A schools to participate in spring football. The other Denton-area schools in the top two classifications — Guyer, Denton and Lake Dallas — took part in the spring festivities.

Henigan took over for former coach Joey Florence in the spring. During Henigan’s young tenure, he has maintained many of the things that Florence did during his 14 years at Ryan.

Henigan said he is looking forward to getting on the field, preparing for games and figuring out what this year’s edition of the Raiders will look like. Ryan graduated more than 50 players from last year’s team.

“We have some question marks,” Henigan said. “Jumping right back in is going to be good. I think it’s going to be fun for me and for the new coaching staff, just to get this started and put our mark on the deal and continue the success that we’ve had.”

Most schools are waiting until sunrise to begin the season. Sanger and Krum are eager to display their lack of patience for yet another year. Both Class 4A schools will begin their campaigns just after midnight tonight.

Krum has practiced at the earliest allowed time for the past six years, starting three years before the Bobcats were an official UIL varsity program. This will be Sanger’s second year of early-morning practice.

Krum coach Gary Robinson said the midnight event has become something the community looks forward to. This year, the booster club made T-shirts to commemorate the first practice.

“The crowd really gets bigger and bigger every year, and it’s become a really cool tradition for us,” Robinson said. “I would hate to be the one that stopped it and said we’re just going to practice at 8 o’clock Monday morning.”

Since the UIL allowed coaches to conduct speed and strength conditioning in the summer, most coaches have seen their athletes this summer. But Robinson said that hasn’t diminished excitement for the first practice of the season.

“I think that the kids may even look forward to it a little bit more because they’re ready to go,” Robinson said. “They’re tired of doing the running and lifting. They’re ready to go play a game.”

BEN BABY can be reached at 940-566-6869 and via Twitter at @Ben_Baby.


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