Pirates, Raiders open preseason practice on Monday
By Greg Ford
WYLIE — August can be the roughest month during the dog days of summer.
However, it’s also the time when harbingers of cooler days and nights come out to work and play.
One of the forerunners of autumn are high school football players, who’ll hit the practice field Monday to begin the preseason practice; it’s all in preparation for a season that begins the week of Aug. 24 and runs through at least early November.
Within the Wylie ISD, both the Wylie Pirates and Wylie East Raiders hope their seasons extend beyond the Nov. 6 regular-season finales.
The first steps towards achieving that goal starts Monday with practice, and then picks up steam Friday, Aug. 21, when each team hosts a scrimmage: Wylie faces Jesuit at Wylie Stadium, while the Raiders are at home versus Frisco Heritage.
The regular season begins the following week, Aug. 28; with East hosting Red Oak at Wylie Stadium and the Pirates heading to Garland’s Williams Stadium for another version of the annual cross-county clash against Sachse.
“The most important thing is we need to see what kind of condition and shape our players are coming back in,” said Wylie head coach Bill Howard. “The first week is all about getting acclimated to the heat, getting back in spring ball form. We ended spring ball on a pretty high note, and we were pretty happy with the way we finished spring. What we are looking for now is the physical development; we’ll try to establish a little more mental toughness. After that, it’s all about executing.”
Getting kids in football shape will be a top priority during the Raiders’ first week of practice.
“That first week is all about conditioning,” head coach Joe Lepsis said, “and making sure that all level, freshman through seniors, are in the right kind of condition. Hopefully, all of your kids are doing the summer program … We have 98 percent of our kids doing our summer program. For the most part, you know going in that your kids are ready for two-a-days … No matter what you do in a strength and conditioning program, that’s not football shape.”
He added, “It’s totally different when you are doing football compared to a conditioning camp. You have to turn what you hope are pretty conditioned kids into football shape, and the only way you do that is football practice.”
Once the pads are on Lepsis doesn’t anticipate a lot of heavy hitting taking place.
“What we are trying to do is get ready for Red Oak … Whether you don’t have pads on or you do have pads on, you are just trying to get the kids ready for that first game … All that hitting, you have spring ball and it doesn’t take long to find out who can play and who can’t.”