As the calendar turns into August and the heat intensifies across Texas, the change in climate and date signal the rapidly approaching start to one of the state’s favorite times of the year.
The journey in which teams embark on topping or matching what they did last year starts Monday, which marks the official beginning of football season, the day mandated by the University Scholastic League when teams can begin the first day of conditioning.
“It’s a time of the year you look forward to,” Argyle head coach Todd Rodgers said. “It’s been on the calendar for a long time, with our countdown clock set for the start of football. The kids have been milling around the fieldhouse for the last couple of weeks after finishing up summer conditioning, so they’re excited, and we’re ready to get the ball rolling.”
This year will mark the first year schools cannot have consecutive days of two practices. In other words, if a team practices twice Tuesday, it can only practice once Wednesday.
The practice period starts with a four-day acclimation process, where no contact activities are allowed and no contact equipment except for helmets can be worn. The first day contact is allowed is Friday, with the first scrimmage date set for Aug. 17.
The UIL approved the new regulations unanimously last October, acting on a recommendation made by the UIL’s Medical Advisory Committee.
The new regulations also increased rest and recovery time between practices to two hours, up an hour from the previous regulations.
“In a lot of ways, our coaches have done a tremendous job of working with our kids and keeping them safe,” UIL director of athletics Mark Cousins said. “This is just another thing in the process to make sure that we do everything that we can to protect the health and safety of those student-athletes that are participating. “
Argyle had already adopted a similar system two years ago, as Rodgers and his coaching staff wanted the emphasis of all practices to be in the morning, giving his players extra recovery time for the next day.
Teams such as Denton and Guyer that participated in spring football training cannot start until Aug. 13. Class 3A teams and below are not allowed to participate in spring football.
Ryan head football coach Joey Florence said it’s “neat” to see which kids remained true to their summer workouts and come into the season in shape, while there are always a few kids who didn’t do enough to prepare themselves for the start of the season.
Florence avoids spring practice and likes the extra week in August so his kids can get used to the heat, and more importantly, get them ready for the grind of the season.
“To me, it’s all about acclimation,” Florence said. “It’s about getting their bodies adjusted to it. You can work out all week, but there’s nothing like a football practice. You’re moving a lot faster, the tempo’s a little bit higher. It’s very important to get acclimated, and that’s why I like the early start that we get.”
Schools that choose not to have spring practice are allowed two scrimmages and can play a game during Week 0 — Aug. 30-Sept. 1 — while schools that held spring practices can only have one scrimmage or else void its eligibility to play during Week 0.
BEN BABY can be reached 940-566-6869. His e-mail address is bbaby@dentonrc.