Stephenville was greeted by a pair of friendly strangers when more than 150 Yellow Jacket football players hit the practice field Monday morning - "cool" temperatures for the early morning workout and a nice breeze for much of the late morning practice.
Two-a-days began Monday for 4A and 5A schools that elected to have spring football practice and give up the first week of fall workouts.
Stephenville for years has been among that group, and head coach Joseph Gillespie says it's a tradeoff he'll take anytime as long as future teams continue to show up as prepared as the 2011 Jackets did Monday.
"One of the biggest positives was being able to pick up where we left off in the spring," said Gillespie. "We're further ahead than we have been in the past from a mental aspect. That's exciting because I can't wait to see where we go from here."
A throng of can fans gave the Yellow Jackets a customary extra-loud greeting as they charged from locker rooms onto the practice field adjacent to Stephenville High School.
"One thing we always have here in Stephenville is great community support," Gillespie said. "I bet there aren't a lot of places where the players come out of their locker rooms before 7 a.m. and see parents and cheerleaders out there shaking those cans excited about what's about to happen."
The temperature didn't hit triple digits until well after workouts were complete, a trend Gillespie hopes to continue throughout the week.
"It really wasn't that bad, especially in the early workout," he said. "It got a little warm on us toward the end of the second workout."
For Gillespie, the best part of Monday was simply having all the student-athletes together again.
"Anytime I can be around all the kids and see them eager and excited, that's always the biggest positive for me," he said. "The kids are why we're here."
The Yellow Jackets continue two-a-days at 7 a.m. through Friday, followed by the annual intra-squad scrimmages Saturday, also at the SHS practice fields.
Stephenville visits Granbury for scrimmages Friday Aug. 20, and the varsity Jackets kickoff the regular season at home against two-time defending 4A Division II champ Aledo Aug. 27.