WOOD RIVER JCT. – For some, the arrival of August comes with the dread of summer coming to an end.
For the hopefuls of the 2013 Chariho High School football team, however, August comes with the excitement of putting on the pads and getting back out on the field.
“If you’re a football coach and for these kids as football player, this is what you wait for,” Chariho coach Mike Kelly said after the team’s practice Tuesday morning. “At some point in the summer, in June and July, they enjoy themselves, but when August comes, they all start to know, ‘Let’s get ready to go.’
“The kids yesterday were jumpy and couldn’t wait to get to going. …Everybody’s undefeated this time of year.”
Charger football returned to work on Monday with their first official practice of the fall season and despite how little time they have been back at it, 2013 is already off to a good start.
According to their coach, returning players came in ready to go from the first set of drills on Monday, making it easier to get into the preparations that really matter.
Their work ethic and dedication has already begun to rub off on those incoming to the program, leaving many encouraging signs early in the pre-season.
“They came in in shape and I think the days of getting in shape in camp are long gone,” Kelly said. “It’s easier to get into football where conditioning becomes a part of it versus spending a big block of time on conditioning and then trying to do football. I think it becomes a culture after a while, that we’ve got a process in place that kids know they should come in in shape and they do.
“That’s lead by example, so that’s credit to the seniors and the older guys because the freshmen are working and they’re working hard. Everybody has capabilities and limitations, but as long as everybody’s working hard, so far I have no complaints.”
With a team that has just seven starters returning from last fall and an abundance of incoming freshmen, the Chargers readiness should pay dividends as the coaching staff can immediately begin evaluating their unknown commodities and putting the pieces to their roster in their proper place.
“We did a couple passing tournaments in the summer time, so we’ve seen some of the older guys, but with the freshmen we haven’t seen a lot of them,” Kelly said. “It’s a combination of evaluating them as athletes and then trying to figure out places where they go.
“Obviously we’re refining what our ones do, but we’re really trying to look at those freshmen. …It’s a guessing game sometimes because where the kid is today isn’t where he’s going to be in two years because of bodies. It’s hard, but the freshmen that seem to be here are interested, they’re working hard and there’s a good mix.”
Though they can get started at it right away, it is a process that will take sometime and one Kelly has no intentions of rushing.
Unlike last season when many underclassmen were rushed into service because of injuries, with the start of a new season there is plenty of time for players to properly develop and get ready before the regular season begins. A process that may not be complete until later in camp when the coaches have a chance to see how their player stack up against unfamiliar competition.
“It’s settling on who your starters are, that’s probably not going to happen until after scrimmages,” Kelly said. “You can look good in pads with your own team, but until the bullets fly.
“Our emphasis is on trying to identify those first units so we can start building some continuity in them. …[This week] we’re just building a foundation.”
It may be a long process and a long journey as the Chargers look to improve on last season’s 3-8 record (2-5 in Division II-A), but with just two practices down, they will have plenty of time to make sure their foundation gets built right.