46 Moffat County football players hit practice Monday
Craig — Monday morning marked the end of the carefree days summer for the members of the Moffat County High School football team and the beginning of a whole new season.
The team’s practices began this week with early morning and evening sessions, with the two-a-days whipping the young men into shape.
“We’ve got to condition their butts off,” said Mike Mitchell, assistant coach and MCHS athletics and activities director.
Starting with training techniques to get the teenage bodies back into the rigors of regular intensive use, coaches put players through their paces with running drills, multiposition pushups and other exercises, including Bulldog jacks, jumping jacks performed to a special chant: “B-U-L-L-D-O-G-S!”
After this warm-up, players broke into groups to focus on blocking, running receiving routes and working on the art of the carry.
Head coach Keith Gille also made sure to devote some time to special teams procedures, running through the basics of kickoffs.
“I don’t know how many teams I’ve seen fall apart in their first couple games because of that,” he said. “It’s one-third of the game.”
The first day was grueling for some, but Gille said he was excited by the amount of effort put forth during the dual sessions.
“They’re good kids, they’re working hard and we got a lot done today,” he said.
An insistence on excellence was common among coaches and teammates, with reminders that there “ain’t no walking” when it’s time for running sinking in more and more as the practice progressed.
Gille was not hesitant to have kids repeat a play numerous times before doing it to satisfaction.
“We are going to get it right or we aren’t going to be able to move forward, and they know that now,” he said. “I’m proud of every one of them.”
A total 46 athletes suited up for the day, with a few others still getting the details worked out to be part of the team. Gille said he hopes to have an overall roster of 70.
Gille, in his 29th year of coaching, is still on the lookout for additions to the coaching staff. As a first-year coach with MCHS, he plans to oversee both varsity and the younger levels, though this will probably change in the years to come.
An ongoing competition between players in activities like bowling and tug-of-war called the Iron Dog Awards, initiated by Gille, is something he hopes will enhance their skills in addition to whetting their appetites for victory this season.
The team’s first match, a road game in Rifle, is Aug. 22.
“We’re going up against one of the best teams in the state, so we’ve got to be ready,” Mitchell said.
Some students are choosing to chart their own course after graduation, bucking the conventional path of college or trade school, but with no less ambition than their degree-seeking peers. Moffat County High School senior Tyler Gonzales is one such student, who has chosen to dive into a full-time job at Chaos Ink after graduating and feed his passion for design and entrepreneurialism.