Fall football practice for prep season begins

Changes forcing teams to tweak workout schedules, methods

jlembo@bradenton.comAugust 6, 2013 

BRADENTON -- Joe Kinnan called it a crash course.

And it will be here in about two weeks.

Monday marked the first official day of practice for fall sports, including football, which begins its slate of games Friday, Aug. 23, with the Kickoff Classics.

This year, however, the first workouts came with a bit of a twist. Because of changes to the Florida High School Athletic Association's heat acclimation policy, players are only permitted to only wear helmets and shorts the first two days of practice, and they can wear shoulder pads during the third day.

Deliberate body contact is prohibited during the team's first five days, though arm shields, dummies, sleds and other devices can be used for teaching.

"We're in full gear for a week, and then it's game week," said Kinnan, whose Hurricanes host Tarpon Springs East Lake on Aug. 23 in a Kickoff Classic that will be broadcast live on Bright House Sports Network. "So it's going to be a crash course. ... But our kids, we've been going for three and four days a week for eight weeks, and we've got kids who haven't missed a day.

"Our kids have worked real hard, and (strength and conditioning) coach (Rich) Lansky has done a marvelous job. We're further along and in better shape than we were at this time last year."

Manatee's varsity team is practicing in the morning this week and the JV and freshmen teams will go in the afternoon. One of the reasons for the split, Kinnan said, is so there will be enough tackling dummies to go around.

"The first three days have always been the rule," said

Dave Marino, set to enter his fourth year as Palmetto's head coach. "The only real change is the extra two days in just helmets and pads. It basically sets you back two days in terms of preparation. Other than that, it's always been where you spend the first two days concentration on the finer points and taking the proper angles. So it hasn't been that major of a setback."

Thanks to spring football and regular summer workouts that include 7-on-7 games against other area schools, Marino doesn't think the changes will make too much of an impact.

His Tigers host Sarasota Riverview in their Classic at 7:30 p.m.

"It's a benefit that we have spring football, which gives us a big jump on fall practice," Marino said. "It hasn't been that far removed. And over the summer, you're still having contact with 7-on-7s, so you're still giving them that teaching, that development that you don't get in the offseason from January to May."

Southeast coach Paul Maechtle agreed with Marino.

"You can just put more time in to devote some of the little intricacies on the field," he said, "as opposed to that fourth day comes and you want to see how the players handle the contact."

Maechtle, whose Seminoles head to Venice for a 7:30 p.m. Kickoff Classic, doesn't believe five days of nothing but helmets and shorts will give players the wrong idea of what to expect.

"Most of our guys have been through this before," he said. "Where things might get interesting is if you decide to do this in the spring."

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