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Prep football coaches gearing up for new season
by Dan Eckles
Aug 07, 2012 | 1880 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Football practice fields across the Silver State will be bustling with activity starting Thursday. So these last few days before official team practices get underway are kind of the 'calm before the storm' for the trio of veteran high school football coaches in the Rail City.

Rob Kittrell has been the head coach of Sparks football since 1998. Ernie Howren has the been the head coach of Reed football since 2001, and at Spanish Springs, Scott Hare has overseen the Cougars gridiron program since 2006.

None of the local coaches are rookies when it comes to preparing for a season. They are all trying to soak up their last few free days before the football barrage begins.

"I try to wind down while getting all the paperwork and practice plans set for Thursday," Howren said. "But at this point it's my 12th season. I don't relax. I think about football and making sure everything is ready to go. I've been doing this a while. If I didn't like it, I wouldn't be doing it. It's a great feeling, but it's nerve wracking too."

At Sparks High, Kittrell had similar sentiments.

"I try to spend more time with the family these last couple days considering I'll disappear here Thursday," the Railroaders gridiron guru said.

Kittrell might not get as much quality time with the family as he'd like. He doubles as the athletic director at SHS so he's wearing two hats in the month of August and both have work to be done.

"Our coaching staff has pretty much everything set by the time summer conditioning rolls around, but this still becomes a busy week with the clearance paperwork. I'd like to focus on the fam, but the AD job is pulling at me too," he said.

Kittrell, like Howren, added his mind wanders a lot to football in the final week before practice starts.

"I'm always thinking about football," he admitted. "We've got eight days or so of practice before that first scrimmage. That's eight days of practice we want to make sure we don't leave anything out. I want to make sure all of our time is accounted for. In summer conditioning, we ran everything a million times against air, but it's a little different when the bullets become live."

For years, NIAA rules dictated programs would start practice on a Thursday, usually the second or third Thursday of August. However, earlier this summer, the NIAA made a policy change to allow programs to start on the first Saturday of the month, giving schools the option to add four more non-contact practices.

After getting that news last month, the Sparks coaches all opted to stay with their previously planned schedules, all that called for an Aug. 9 start date. In fact, most prep football programs in the Truckee Meadows are waiting until Thursday to start official fall workouts.

Was it a relief for Howren, who guided his Raiders into the 4A state title game last fall, see the majority of his coaching counterparts choose the later start date as well? He didn't seem to care too much.

"I can only worry about our camp. I don't worry about anybody else's," he said. "My worry is about the kids and parents in our program. I will tell you that next season we'll adjust our (non-mandatory) summer schedule to give the kids more time off in the beginning of the summer and then we'll take advantage of these extra practices leading into double days. It's a good idea from the district and the state. It's going in the right direction."

Hare said his coaching staff has no issues starting Thursday rather than last weekend.

"At the end of the summer program, everybody feels good about where they are," Hare said. "The kids need a few days off, a good week to decompress and be excited for the first official day. That's what I want, the kids excited for that first day."

Both Reed and Sparks will hold their first official practices Thursday from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. and both will take a dinner break before returning in the cooler evening hours for a second practice. Spanish Springs starts at 8:30 a.m. with a two and a half hour workout before taking an afternoon break and returning in the evening for a second session.

Despite the tough daily grind on family life for local coaches, they still say most of their family members are excited.

"The wife is a little concerned, but that's part of football season" Howren said. "The kids are amped up. My little boy and I have been out throwing the football around every night. He's pretty fired up."

The Kittrell household didn't sound too different.

"All of my kids have asked me when our first game is. They're excited," Kittrell said. "My two little ones are headed back to school so it's a little chaotic. Jennifer (Kittrell's wife) has a little sadness, but she knows what to expect when I'm not around as much."

The Hare household is also ready to see the pigskin flying around.

"Everybody at our house is always excited for football," Hare said. "My wife Lisa has a sign outside our house that says 'The Hare household stops for Cougar Football.' I think we all may hit a wall about midway through the season, but right now is an exciting time. We're all invested in how well we do."
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