Being under the bright lights of the football stadium is something Brett Loyd and Shandon Hadley have looked forward to for years.
The two incoming Moffat County High School freshmen will have to wait a few more months before suiting up to play in their first match-up at the Bulldog Proving Grounds, but now that they’ve gotten a taste of the next level of the gridiron, fall can’t come soon enough.
The MCHS football team hosted practices this week in preparation for the 2012-2013 athletics season. The sessions brought back the members of the varsity team as well as incoming freshmen.
Head Coach Kip Hafey said he has high hopes for the incoming players.
“What a great class of freshmen we’ve got, they’re picking it up really fast,” he said.
Hadley and Loyd were among two dozen freshmen-to-be tearing up the practice field during the three nights of sessions. Hadley said he enjoyed the increased complexity of passing plays compared to those used at the middle school level.
“There’s just a lot more options instead of running the same plays over and over,” he said.
Hadley and Loyd switched off at quarterback and running back during a scrimmage, with coaches Hafey, Lance Scranton, Derek Duran, James Neton and Hadley’s father, Shane, evaluating their skills.
“I like how the coaches here don’t pick favorites,” Loyd said.
Hadley and Loyd said they hope to be able to qualify for varsity in the fall.
“I think just playing with a lot of the older kids will be great,” Hadley said.
After the younger Bulldogs finished their practice time, the more seasoned players took the field, jumping straight into the familiar formations from last fall.
Hafey sees good things happening already with his upperclassmen.
“We’ve got a great group of seniors who are already getting things rolling for us,” he said. “We’re a little rusty right now, but we’re working on the kinks and getting better each day.”
Michael Samuelson, who will be a senior in the fall, said he and his fellow team members have worked hard to move from the off-season back into steady practices.
“Things are going pretty smoothly,” he said. “We’re running a no-huddle right now, so you’ve really got to have a high level of physical fitness to be ready for that. It’s really just a warm-up right now.”
This week’s practices focused on fundamental skills on offense and defense, serving as an easy adjustment back into the football state of mind, with more intensive sessions in the second half of June. The Bulldogs will be able to move into more serious practices earlier than ever this year because of a new rule from the Colorado High School Activities Association.
Hafey said CHSAA will allow the team to participate in a five-day football camp June 18 to 22 before attending a larger team training at Colorado State University’s Pueblo campus from June 24 to 27.
“We’ll be using pads and everything, so it should be pretty fun,” Hafey said. “That extra week should give us a good idea of what to expect for next season. It should be exciting.”
Samuelson said he has only the highest goals in mind for his senior year.
“Winning, getting to the playoffs, the state championship, all the way,” he said.