Up before the sun

Dion Clisso/PrepsKC

By Dion Clisso PrepsKC Managing Editor
Posted: August 6, 2012 - 6:27 AM

On a cool morning in what has been a long hot summer high school football went from offseason to regular season as practiced opened on the Missouri side of the state line.
Many teams were up before the sun starting practice in anticipation of the first live games Aug. 24.
One of the teams that started its season under the lights was defending Missouri Class 6 champion Blue Springs South. The Jaguars started at 5:30 a.m. with their first session of two-a-days and this year’s team will have many new faces different from a squad that went 12-2 to win the school’s second state title.
The first day of practice is always exciting and it makes even the most experienced player get out of bed even earlier than needed for a practice that starts before dawn. Jaguars senior Jordan Conaty said it was fun to get up early.
“It really is, waking up early in the morning at four o’clock,” Conaty said. “You wake up, you are kind of tired but you are excited to get out here and get going.”
South returns just a handful of starters but many of this year’s group of front-line players did see time during the state title run. It will be an adjustment but one the players are excited about making.
“We learned a lot from those guys last year,” Conaty said. “Just taking what we learned from them and seeing how they played it is really going to benefit us this year. As long as we work hard and keep doing what we are doing we will be pretty good this year.”
While the traditional first day of practice always brings some excitement the rules changes of the last few years allows teams to spend a lot of the summer preparing for the upcoming season. Many teams like Blue Springs South hold their final team camp of the summer two weeks before practice so the concepts are very fresh when official high school practice opens.
“With the summer the way it is right now today is just a continuation of that,” South coach Greg Oder said. “We have some guys that played and have a few offensive linemen back but for the most part it’s kind of like starting over. It’s kind of what you expect on the first day of practice. A week ago we were doing the same thing in camp so it is kind of like a continuation of that.
“Without that (the late camp) it wouldn’t be near what you saw. Especially with the older guys that have been through this four years now. It does help because we can review for a day instead of a week.”