With new policies regarding heat acclimatization in place, Effingham, Newton and Cumberland kicked off football practice Wednesday.
For the first six days of the season, teams can only practice three hours with an hour-long walkthrough, and a mandatory rest period of two hours.
Teams could only use helmets Wednesday and today, and can put on shoulder pads Friday. Full pads are permitted Tuesday, along with five hours of practice time.
Still, Effingham and other schools made it work for them.
“We were able to do a walkthrough this morning, and we’ll do that tomorrow morning and Friday morning,” said Effingham coach Mike McDonald. “We’re not doing anything physically, but mentally, we’re thinking about what we’re going to be doing that night.”
Effingham is coming off a 2-7 season, and had about 90 kids in the high school program, with 37 upperclassmen coming back for the 2013 campaign.
Until the season starts, teams can not schedule five hour practices on back-to-back days. Practices are not allowed on Sundays, and players must participate for at least 90 minutes in 12 of the 14 practice days during the heat acclimatization period to be eligible to play in week one, per the Illinois High School Association.
The transition was easier over in Jasper County for Newton, as the Eagles were in the classroom Wednesday for the first day of school, wiping out the possibility of a two-a-day even without the new policies.
“You don’t have to worry about the double day,” said Newton coach Jason Fulton. “It put us in regular school mode, where you practice after school every day. You’d like to have a little more time.”
Newton ended the season on a two-game win streak, and are looking to turn the corner from a 4-5 season in 2013. They had 24 freshmen come out for a total of about 60 players Wednesday afternoon.
It was all new, all the time up in Toledo for the Cumberland Pirates, as the new rules were joined by new head coach Kevin Maynard.
Cumberland was the only area team to make the playoffs last year, going 6-3 before losing to Carrolton in the first round of the playoffs.
With 35 players coming out for the Pirates, it’s all about maximizing what they have.
“We got a lot of things accomplished today, it was definitely a teaching day. With the use of our summer, playing 7-on-7, we’re ahead offensively,” Maynard said. “Now we need to get caught up defensively.”
That was the mantra around the area, making the summer count once the practices started Wednesday.
“We put in a lot of work during the summer because we’re not a lot allowed to do double days,” McDonald said. “We’re working on cleaning things up, working on technique, things like that.”
Other fall sports started practice Wednesday as well. Every sport but golf begins play the week of Aug. 26, while boys and girls golf begins Monday.