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Calm Before the Storm
by Dan Eckles
Aug 07, 2013 | 1739 views | 0 0 comments | 33 33 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune file photo - Spanish Springs football coach Scott Hare (in hat) and senior quarterback Hunter Fralick discuss offensive strategy during a Cougars summer workout last month.
Tribune file photo - Spanish Springs football coach Scott Hare (in hat) and senior quarterback Hunter Fralick discuss offensive strategy during a Cougars summer workout last month.
This is the last full week before the start of high school football in the Silver State. While most prep coaches and players in Nevada are chomping at the bit to see the season get underway, many programs are taking different approaches to the final days of summer vacation.

That's certainly the case in Sparks where the Rail City's three high school gridiron programs are each doing something a little different in this first full week of August.

At Spanish Springs, the Cougars are in the thick of their summer program. The SSHS gridders held their one summer-allowed full-contact camp last week and are spending this week in film study and walk throughs.

"We have some really good film of camp and now we really have a good idea what some of our deficiencies are and also what we do well," eighth-year Spanish Springs coach Scott Hare said.

At Reed, the Raiders concluded their non-contact summer program with workouts Monday and Tuesday. Reed coach Ernie Howren, entering his 13th season at the helm of the RHS program, gave his players the next five days off before they get back to work Monday.

"We always give our players three weeks off at the beginning of summer so we feel like we can go a little later into the summer," Howren said. "We give them the big vacation early and we still felt like five days off before they go back to school would be a good thing. I hope they do nothing for the next five days, sleep, go camping, do whatever they need. Just take a little break and mentally relax."

The Washoe County School District calendar has traditionally started school the final week of August, but the 2013-14 school year is different and it kicks off on Aug. 12. That change has effectively erased local schools' ability to host two-a-day workouts.

At Sparks High, Rob Kittrell is the dean of WCSD coaches, having been guiding the Railroaders' football program since 1998. Kittrell and his SHS coaching staff opted to let their players have this week off after working through last week's full-contact camp in the summer heat.

"We want to let them recharge and get ready for school," Kittrell said. "Physically, this summer we ran a lot more and did a more intensive conditioning program than in the past.

"I feel like the kids have worked really hard. We just finished up camp so their bodies are obviously not used to hitting. We hit pretty good for five days so I just figured it'd be good for a week off to get recharged for the start of football."

According to rules set forth by the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association, the state's governing body for high school athletics, prep football programs can host four days of non-contact conditioning, starting Saturday. The first day of official practice is Aug. 15, but players are only allowed to start wearing helmets that day. August 19 marks the first day players can don pads and get into full-contact workouts.

That's the day coaches and athletes are most looking forward to.

"And that's such an understatement," Howren said. "I can speak for all our coaches and players. We cannot wait for full-contact practice to start. Everyone is excited. The kids have been working so hard all winter, spring and summer. We're getting close to putting pads on and they're looking forward to it."

The NIAA began the four-day conditioning period for schools last summer. However, given it's a non-contact period, the allowable activities are no different than offseason summer practices. Thus, some programs only use part of the four-day conditioning period and some use none.

"It's exactly the same as our summer workouts," Hare said of the four-day conditioning period. "To me, it's funny the NIAA implemented these four days. The truth is every high school program I know about has been running somewhere between a month and six-week summer program. So you're just adding an extra few days.

"My kids are in shape. Sure we'll run them a little more in the next week or so, but we could play a football game right now and not lose because we're out of shape. I feel like we condition them every day. The extra days are fine and the kids are in school so they're already here. So we'll take advantage of them, but right now our kids are pretty heat acclimated."

Spanish Springs should be heat acclimated after hosting its four-team, five-day full-contact camp last week Golden Eagle Regional Park. Hare said the camp was very productive.

"We used to go to camp earlier," Hare said. "We'd go to camp and not really have our offense or defense in. We were coaching it on the fly at camp. There was a lot of camp film, but we were not evaluating the little things we were doing wrong. We were just trying to evaluate the big parts, like did a kid want to hit somebody? Now, we're doing that too, but because we've worked on offense and defense for over a month, we have a lot of good film where we should know what we're doing."

Reed held its full-contact camp in mid-June and wrapped up its week of beating each other up with a Blue and Gold intra-squad scrimmage. Howren has watched many of his coaching counterparts opt for later camps that coincide closer with the start of fall practice. Still, he says he wouldn't change a thing.

"I really feel like we've done things that always work for us," he said. "Everything for us has felt just like the last five or six years. This is a recipe we've used and it's worked for us. We'll continue to keep dialing it up until it doesn't work anymore. Summer should be about conditioning, lifting (weights) and a little about football on the the side."
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