Senior wideout Ben Rogers makes a catch near the sideline against senior cornerback Marcus Hicks in Derby High School’s first football practice on Monday morning. The beginning of the week marked the first time fall sports teams could officially begin practicing.
Before the sun came up over the trees near Panther Stadium, more than 100 football players in flat green helmets, shorts and T-shirts were busy running drills in the cool, crisp morning air.
The searing heat that has plagued the area stayed away Monday morning as high school sports teams held their first official practices.
Kansas State High School Activities Association rules kept the Derby High School football team out of full pads until Thursday, but the team still took advantage of the favorable weather with a three-hour practice at 6:30 a.m. to kickoff the season.
Monday’s practice was far from the first time head coach Brandon Clark and his staff had the opportunity to see the team in action. Nearly the entire roster had been at various camps and organized workouts all summer. The early, helmet-only practices that started on Monday were not much different from the summer, Clark said.
“We could do this all summer,” Clark said. “Right now we need to get some kids in shape and focus on technique until we can get into full pads. There are some eager kids out here that want to play.”
Even without shoulder pads and full-contact drills, the enthusiasm from the coaching staff and players was difficult to miss.
Slacking players could not hide amongst the crowd and out of the watchful eyes of the coaches. Missed defensive coverage, dropped passes and lazy drilling – even on the first day of practice – did not go unnoticed.
The team will continue with two-a-day practices for the rest of the week, before falling into their normal after-school schedule. Derby opens the season with its first game on Thursday, Aug. 30 at Salina South. Its first home game is the following Friday against Andover Central.
Football players were not the only athletes who had the chance to jump headfirst into the season. Cross country, volleyball, boys soccer and girls golf and tennis all started practice on Monday.
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