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Football Practice Gets Underway in W.Va.

Local teams eager as the season begins

Photo by Cody Tomer Linsly wide receiver Lee Paull hauls in a one-handed catch during drills.

WHEELING — High school kids from all around West Virginia woke up on Monday, grabbed their helmets, laced up their cleats and hit the practice field. Football is back!

Teams gathered together for the first time in what will be a long journey of a season to go over gameplans, team goals and quite simply — to just play football.

“It really is the greatest day of the year,” Linsly coach BJ Depew said. “To see everybody here in the orange and black — it kind of gives you chills to think we are starting this journey together now for the next 13 weeks.

“We try to instill the philosophy of the program and in particular, working on offense here (Monday). We spent the morning conditioning, lifting and doing some speed work. You have to be careful that you get guys ready before getting into physical work but we can get communication taught and get kids to understand concepts rather than memorize assignments. That’s kind of the goal on the first couple of days but it will be all football out here (Monday) afternoon.”

For most, the Rudy Mumley OVAC All-Star Game is the turning point that kick-starts the football mindset for people in the Ohio Valley. After that, the countdown begins for the first regular season game under the lights.

“It’s time — football season,” Wheeling Park coach Chris Daugherty said. “Once the OVAC game is played, I think the whole valley starts thinking ‘OK, it’s time to go back to school and it’s football season.’

“I think everybody is mentally ready to get after it.”

The sport has evolved over the years as teams now get a three-week period in June to prepare, allowing players to hit the ground running on the first day of practice.

“Football has changed so much,” Daugherty said. “We used to have three weeks of two-a-days but now we do get a lot done in June. So, it’s a little bit shorter in August and there’s not as many two-a-days.

“At the same time, our install was done in June, so now, in today’s high school football, this is a review day. We review everything we put in during June, move forward and get better at what we do.

“You don’t feel like you need as much time as you used to when you couldn’t do anything with those guys in June.”

John Marshall also took full advantage of its days in June and are now focused on preparing for the first game of the regular season.

“It’s nice to get started out here,” JM coach Jason Willis said. “We had those flex days but knowing there is a target — a game ahead feels good.

“This just means the start of fall and fall weather. I was watching the Hall of Fame Game this weekend and that kind of gets you into football mode. We’re excited to get started.”

For Wheeling Central, the start of practice again begins the quest to defend its state championship. A responsibility coach Mike Young and the Maroon Knights are always eager to take on.

“We are looking forward to defending,” Young said. “That’s a tribute to all the people in our program from the players, to the managers, to the coaches, to the parents, to the administration. Everybody is all in to win here.

“Life is good right now at Wheeling Central and we want to keep it that way.”

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