Thursday marked the official first official day of practice for Nevada's high school football programs, but it came and went without much fanfare.
"It doesn't feel much different," veteran Sparks High football coach Rob Kittrell said. "We put helmets on, but we did the same stuff we've been doing."
Kittrell's sentiment is due largely to the fact that his team participated in three days of the NIAA's new conditioning period, which allows programs to practice but only non-contact workouts. The three days are aimed at getting athletes in better shape. Thursday, Friday and Saturday practices are much of the same except players can strap on helmets.
In reality, this past week of practice has not been any different than the allowable offseason programs, which are also non-contact. Additionally, Sparks players did get to put on pads for full-contact workouts just two weeks ago when the Railroaders participated in their one-week summer camp, which was hosted by Spanish Springs.
The state's prep gridiron programs are allowed to compete in one full-contact camp per summer.
"The kids were probably a little more fired up than the coaches today," Kittrell said late during Thursday's practice. "They got to put the helmets on, so it probably felt better for them."
The Rail City's other two high school football programs fight the same challenges as Sparks. Both Reed and Spanish Springs have been in weightlifting training since January and both held summer programs to get their kids in shape as well as optimize scheme work.
What makes the 2013 season a bit different for local schools from years past is Washoe County's new school calendar. Classes started this past week, eliminating the possibility of double-day practices. In past years, Reno-Sparks area football programs have had a game under their belt before school even began. Now they will have had three weeks of classes before suiting up on Opening Night.
"What makes it funny is in past years during the first week (of practice), we hadn't started school so there was no anticipation of a game," Kittrell said. "Now school has started and we're still getting new kids out. My body clock is a little off. I feel like we should be preparing for a game."
The intensity level at practice should rise Monday. That is the first day the NIAA, Nevada's governing body for prep sports, allows teams to wear pads and start full-contact drills.
Scrimmage Saturday, when most northern Nevada teams pick up scrimmages or participate in jamborees to see their athletes in initial game action, is set for Aug. 24. Opening Night is Friday, Aug. 30.
"It does feel like it's getting close. I'm excited for this year," Kittrell said.