Local teams go through first practices

Regular season games start in two weeks

Leader photo by Morgan Rode Shawano players work on drills during Wednesday’s practice.

A little rain couldn’t put a damper on high school football teams return to the gridiron.

Wednesday marked the first day teams could hit the practice fields, and whether coming off a state championship or winless season, the excitement to get the season underway was still present despite some overcast and rainy weather conditions in the area.

Players with at least one season under their belts know the drill, but many new players got their first taste of the high school football season.

While football equipment was also passed out Wednesday, many teams spent the first practice day working on the fundamentals of the game.

Many players could be seen attempting to properly carry the football, with others working on tackling and using the right techniques to do it safely. Several coaches and instructors could be spotted on the fields, working with different positions and on different skills.

Even though working on the fundamentals might not thrill many, often the teams that do the little things the best are the ones that win football games and make postseason runs.

“The first practices are very big. A lot of winning teams do the fundamentals well and this is where you get them down,” Shawano’s Brayden Dickelman said. “You have to be able to go through the fundamentals to get more complex and eventually win games.”

Within a few days, most teams will go through scrimmages and before long, the first games of the fall will be here. Most teams open the season on Friday, Aug. 17.

Bonduel has served as one of the area’s top teams in recent memory. Despite the prolonged success, the players on the team know how important each practice can be and were locked in from the first whistle.

“It’s a lot of mental reps. We stand out here and watch one guy do it and then find out how we can do that thing better. That will help us in the game so that we don’t have to think as much,” Bonduel’s Isaac Garside said. “We also learn fits for new people and then we can have more fits to be the best team we can be.”

While the first official practices of the new season began Wednesday, some athletes have been preparing for the upcoming season since the last one ended.

Shawano coach Al Tomow and Bonduel coach James Westrich raved about their players’ hard work and effort in the weight room.

“It’s been a really long offseason. We had some kids make some really good gains though, some younger kids that have really stepped up and could potentially be big players for us this year,” Tomow said.

“We are really excited (to start playing games). The kids put in a ton of time in the weight room this summer, and they are all ready to get after it,” Westrich said.

Shawano and Bonduel each open the regular season on the road, taking on West De Pere and Coleman, respectively.

Wittenberg-Birnamwood also opens on the road against Northland Pines while Tigerton/Marion battles Niagara/Goodman/Pembine (Northern Elite) in Marion. Clintonville will travel to take on Fox Valley Lutheran on Thursday, Aug. 16.

In 8-man football action, Bowler/Gresham will take on Sevastopol in Bowler while Menominee Indian travels to Lena to face the Lena/St. Thomas Aquinas Academy co-op.