NARRAGANSETT – For adults, the approach of Labor Day usually comes with the anticipation of a three-day weekend and possibly one last vacation before the weather turns.
For local youths, it signifies something worse; the end of summer vacation.
For the 53 students hoping to suit up for Narragansett High School this fall, the silver lining is that at least the end of summer means football is back.
“It’s always nice to be back,” said Narragansett coach Dick Fossa. “It kind of signifies the end of summer, though. The summer went way too quick, but it’s good to be back. We have a nice bunch of kids coming back, so we’re looking forward to the season.”
The excitement, however, might be short lived for the Mariners. Even though things are just getting underway, Narragansett football is already under the gun to get amped up and ready to go for the start of the 2013 season.
With Thanksgiving falling at the end of November, the school’s early start date and new regulations on practice lengths and times, the Mariners lost a lot of the preparation time they are accustomed to this fall.
The normal two weeks of double sessions was cut down to one and the customary three week preseason before school starts was cut down to just under two.
The schedule put the Mariners in a tough spot before they even stepped on the field Monday morning for their first practice of the year.
“The National Federation of High Schools has limited the amount of time you can go because of the heat acclimation guidelines,” Fossa said. “You can go three hours and then you have to sit down. You have to give them a three-hour rest and then you can have a one-hour walk through, but there’s no conditioning, no pads. That takes more practice time away from us.
“We start early at Narragansett. We’re in before Labor Day, so that’s four or five more practices away from us. …In years past, we’ve started a week earlier than the other sports. This year we’re starting at the same time. …We only have six days of double sessions. Some teams have two weeks, we only have six days. The first five days there’s no contact, so we’re kind of behind the eight ball right away and have to get right into things.”
Though they are getting their first look of the year at their players in actual football conditions, with no time to waste Fossa and the rest of the Narragansett coaching staff are already evaluating their players and shaping the roster for the coming season.
“The first and foremost thing that you have to do is you have to identify your players,” said the Mariners’ coach. “The season starts basically in three weeks.
“You have to find the guys that need to be ready for day one when you start for real. We’re pretty comfortable defensively, we lost some offensive linemen and I think that’s where we’re going to need to do the most work, identifying those guys that are going to play offensive line. Get them into shape.”
The Mariners got off to a strong start at Monday’s first practice according to their coach, but time is of the essence for Narragansett as they look to build throughout their short preparation time in hopes of improving on last year’s .500 season.