Many a head coach will tell you cutting into his practice time is a bad thing. Make that virtually every head coach.

But not Stephenville head football coach and athletic director Joe Gillespie. He voluntarily made the change to lighter preseason workouts a year ago, and says he immediately saw the advantages.

The University Interscholastic League has limited preseason workouts by outlawing consecutive two-a-days. Teams are allowed only one practice during the acclimation period - the first four days when full pads are not allowed - and must not hold two-a-day practices on consecutive days.

"Honestly, it's good timing for us to have these new guidelines coming into effect this year, because last year we adjusted our two-a-days to where we were going out just once in the morning then bringing them back in the afternoon for weights, chalk talk, film work, things of that nature," said Gillespie. "We decided to do what we could to try and keep their legs fresh."

It was a decision that paid big dividends during the Yellow Jackets' daunting 2011 pre-district schedule.

"I was real skeptical about doing it last year, then we play Aledo in game one and they have 70-75 kids to our 35-40 but they were the ones laying on the field cramping up, not us," he pointed out. "I noticed repeatedly through the first four or five ballgames that we appeared to be the more fresh team, so I had already decided we were going to continue doing our early workouts that way."

Gillespie thought he had stumbled onto an idea that may give Stephenville a big early-season leg up for years to come.

"Right when I thought we were really onto something here, the UIL goes and makes pretty much the same plan mandatory for everyone," he said with a laugh. "That's alright though. Obviously this is better for kids here and statewide."

As other coaches were scrambling to make alternating one-a-day and two-a-day plans, Gillespie and staff simply adapted their model from last year.

"We kind of already have a blueprint in place so to speak," he said. "The only big difference for us is we did go out twice every day during the acclimation period this year, and now we can only go once. But we were going out there for an hour and a half each time, and now they say we can go up to three hours on days we only have one practice.

"We're not losing anything here," he added. "We were ahead of the curve on this one."

Gillespie is expecting anywhere from 180-200 athletes when all high school football players report Monday morning. He says plans are to hit the field at 7 a.m.

Follow Brad Keith on Twitter @etsports