Let the contact begin.
The Stephenville Yellow Jackets had their first day in football pads as of Friday and Saturday's action will feature the annual Blue-Gold scrimmage.
The first day of practice, without pads, was on Monday. Head coach Sterling Doty said a total of about 85 players came out to play, counting 10th through 11th graders. Also, there are approximately 65 freshmen.
Friday was the first day the players were allowed to wear full pads, and today is the first day for full contact, per UIL rules.
Early Saturday the coaches and players were having their season photos taken in The Green Room, to be followed by the scrimmages.
The freshmen players will be divided into two groups, and they will scrimmage starting at 9 a.m.
The varsity and junior varsity players will combine for the Blue-Gray scrimmage, scheduled to start at 10 a.m., on the practice field where the practice track is located. The first-team offense will be matched against the second-team defense first, followed by the second-team offense challenging the first-team defense.
Because of construction around the high school building, those attending the scrimmages are advised to either park on West Overhill Drive in the vicinity of the practice field or in the parking lot across the street.
Doty’s Yellow Jackets — just like the other teams in Texas getting ready for the 2019 campaign — had to “get familiar” with the 100-plus degree temperatures as they worked on their conditioning.
There were one or two cases where some of the younger players also got familiar with the word upchuck. Other than that, Doty said, there have been no issues or injuries so far.
On the first three days, the Jackets were on the practice field early, and were done before 10 a.m. In the afternoons on those days they watched instructional video and did their prescribed weightlifting chores.
On Thursday and Friday, the times flipped and the players were scheduled to be indoors in the mornings and on the practice field from 4-7 p.m.
Throughout North Texas, the high temperatures have been hitting 100 degrees or higher. That makes staying hydrated a high-priority safety factor in today’s wide world of high school athletics.
Doty said the practice sessions feature three built-in water breaks, plus a five-minute Gatorade break in the middle to restore electrolytes (necessary minerals) lost through heavy sweating in this kind of heat.
“The majority of them had trained all summer, and their bodies are used to (the heat),” Doty said. “We’re in good shape. We’ve got to continue to fuel our bodies to do the work we need to do for each day.”
Doty is a former Yellow Jacket standout who had been the head coach at Magnolia High School before being chosen as the SHS head coach.
“The kids were really excited to get back out there,” said Doty, who was a member of the 1998 and 1999 SHS football teams that won back-to-back state titles.
Doty said the goal in the early workouts is to see growth in the players, and “to get better every day,” and added that in the first few days the players “learned a lot.”
For Monday through Thursday of next week, the Jackets are set to have on-field practices from 4-7 p.m. The first of their two schedules will be Friday, Aug. 16, at Tiger Stadium in Glen Rose (varsity at 6:30 p.m.).