The three men head up the football programs at the trio of Sparks-area high schools and they were all in their element Thursday: the first official day of prep football practice in the Silver State.
“Absolutely, today is like Christmas,” said Hare, the third-year football coach at Spanish Springs. “I love getting going and getting to the point where you put gear on. We do so much in the offseason and we never get to play a game. We only get to the play the 10 in our regular season, so it's definitely exciting to get started.”
Reed's Howren had similar sentiments.
“Everyday, from here on out to November, is just a great day,” he said. “It's just great to be out there with the kids, watching them learn and execute the game plan. It's a lot of fun to watch that.”
The Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association, the state's governing body for high school sports, mandates that high school programs must hold three days of non-contact workouts. That leaves coaches to hold conditioning workouts this weekend before handing out the football pads for practice, starting Monday.
Nearly all of Nevada's large schools hold a summer football class so the policy of three mandatory days of non-contact workouts is not popular with many local coaches.
“I find it so dumb. You can call them conditioning days but what have we been doing for eight weeks?” Hare said. “If we're going to have a class, it doesn't make much sense. We have eight days as it is before an actual scrimmage, so I just don't understand that.”
Howren admitted he'd like to see the three conditioning days go away, as well.
“At this point, we all have summer weights and structured programs so there's really no need for these three days, but it's still a great opportunity to practice,” the Raiders' eighth-year coach said. “If people feel no pads is needed then we'll go with no pads. But it's obvious the reason you play football is to hit. The sooner you get pads on the better.”
Spanish Springs, Reed and Sparks will all get in their three days of non-contact workouts, practice with pads for five days next week and then compete in scrimmages or jamborees on Aug. 23. The teams then return to the gridiron for another week of practice before suiting up for the season openers Aug. 29 or 30.
“We try and keep things mixed up as much as we can. The majority of the kids know the stuff we've been doing all summer,” Sparks coach Rob Kittrell said. “This is kind of a reminder period. Then we move on and throw in some new wrinkles and new drills. We want want to give the kids something to focus on each day, a goal or objective.”
The coaches all have different approaches with their teams and preparation during preseason camp.
“We've spent so much time with the kids in the summer ... we've had a chance to put in a good chunk of the offense, defense and special teams so we like to get back to square one,” Howren said. “We want to build on the things we've already got in. We'll go a little slow at first and then throw the playbook at them again.”
Hare said the first two weeks of practice are all about fine tuning.
“We really just try to put in the groups of plays we've worked on in the summer when we did a lot of walk-through and talking,” the Cougars coach said. “Now, we have to know how to run it in a game situation. We're putting the final pieces of the puzzle together to make sure we can play a game.”
Spanish Springs kicks off the 2008 campaign at Carson on Aug. 29. Reed hosts Bishop Manogue the same night. Sparks will be at South Tahoe for its season debut on Aug. 30.