Prep football practices started Wednesday, and just about everyone was excited. At Lakeside School, an assistant coach sang to no one in particular: “It smells like football. It even tastes like football.”
Bellevue started a tad late, around 7 p.m., and stretching time, normally quiet, was accompanied by high-pitched yelps of “it’s football season.”
Even Seahawks coach Pete Carroll acknowledged Wednesday’s importance.
He wrote on Twitter: “Best wishes to all the Washington high school football teams getting started today! Compete to be your best!”
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The Seattle Times ventured out to six practices, picking up notes, photos and videos along the way.
Skyline has its first game of the season against rival Issaquah, a matchup usually scheduled for the middle of the season. Because of the change, the players at Skyline have sharpened their focus heading into the fall.
“In the offseason there was a really high commitment level to training,” coach Mat Taylor said. “And usually these guys are used to playing an out-of-state team but this is just the way it worked out.”
There were plenty of new faces at Kentwood’s first practice Wednesday morning. But one of them was very familiar.
Tom Ingles, who coached the Conquerors to 4A state championships in 2001 and ’02, has joined Rex Norris’ staff after spending the past few years in California, where he moved with his wife after six seasons at Puyallup High School.
“It’s kind of surreal for me,” said Norris, who was once Ingles’ assistant at Kentwood.
When a player at Lakeside got his “bell rung” during training camp in late July, coach Casey Sefridge and his staff tried to break down what happened, looking for ways to prevent a similar situation. At the same time, Carroll came out with a video on proper tackling techniques.
“It stemmed from consulting with rugby players, and luckily one of our families here had ties to Serevi rugby,” Sefridge said.
“It’s really just taking the head out of the game. The traditional way teaches the head to come across the body, and this way it’s more of a shoulder tackle.”
Lakeside is implementing the new drills at practices with the help of Waisale Serevi.
Lindbergh had the stingiest defense in the Seamount League last season, which helped the Eagles win a title that traditionally belonged to Kennedy Catholic. Coach Matt Leamer expects defense to be a forte again with nine players returning who have at least some starting experience.
And Devon Jackson, who moves from wide receiver to quarterback this fall, believes the offense can hold its own and fuel another strong run into the 2A state playoffs.
Early big games
Bellevue starts its season with two big games. It’s an unlikely way to start a season — playing one of the top teams in the nation followed by a game at home against another big-time program, but Bellevue linebacker Ross Connors said it’s a challenge he’s looking forward to.
“We’re excited to get after it. They’re some of the best teams in the country, so it will be a really good test for us. It will be a really good indicator of where we’re at,” Connors said.
Bellevue travels to California to face Serra on Sept. 6 and then hosts Alta of Utah on the 13th.
It’s in the details
Auburn Riverside is coming off a record-breaking season, and that didn’t happen by accident in coach Bryant Thomas’ eyes.
The second-year coach pays attention to details, and that showed early at Wednesday’s opening practice. When he didn’t like the effort and execution of the simple jumping jacks, pushups and squats, he stopped the drill, demonstrated, and called for another set.
“We’re not just going to go through the motions,” he said. “If you can’t keep up, you’ve got to speed up.”