Free State High’s football coaches haven’t had a lot to complain about through three days of practices, which is good news for the players.
Out of all the positive moments, senior Firebirds linebacker Stan Skwarlo said the team’s intensity in its overall approach stood out most for him.
“I feel like we’re all just ready to go and hustling,” Skwarlo said.
The Firebirds, he added, are eager to practice with pads on for the first time today after two-a-days Monday through Wednesday.
“We’ve really got the hang of things, especially with the new offense that we’re doing,” Skwarlo said of the spread formation with running backs and receivers acting as interchangeable parts. “The intensity was really there, and everyone was ready to go.”
Of course, FSHS coach Bob Lisher is more likely to notice minor problems than the players.
“For the most part, our intensity has been good,” Lisher clarified. “We have lapses now and then that we try to get rid of.”
Physical and mental sharpness usually flows from the seniors down, but Lisher said there have been exceptions.
“Once in a while, coaches have to chime in a little bit and get their spirits up,” he said with a chuckle.
Senior quarterback and safety Joe Dineen said the Firebirds show progress.
“I feel like we’re picking up right where we left off from the summer,” Dineen said. “We’re not having to start over on anything,”
Free State, he added, has stayed productive and upbeat through three days of work: “In one practice, we cover so much stuff that if you’re not learning new things, then you’re not paying attention.”
Young Lions learning
Lawrence High football practice, senior receiver and safety Kieran Severa said, hasn’t been easy.
“The first three days are no joke,” Severa said, noting the Lions practiced Tuesday for 41⁄2 hours.
Still, when the coaches provide challenges, the players responded.
“We have old guys and young guys who know what it takes, and we’re not lazy at all here — sprinting off the ball, sprinting back to the ball … it’s a marathon,” Severa said. “I’m really happy with our tempo so far.”
While Severa, Drew Green, Kyle Wittman, Alex Jones and Tucker Sutter are the only returning LHS starters, Severa said their inexperienced cohorts want to get better.
“It’s tough, because this might be their first year running the plays, and all of us older guys know the plays already before (practices) started,” he said. “They’re trying to retain information the best they can, so they’re studying their playbooks at night. After you get home at 8:30, you have homework. That’s tough. The first few days it’ll be sloppier with the younger guys as far as plays go, but once they get it figured out, they’ll be good for us. We have a lot of good talent with our younger guys, and they just need to figure out how everything works.”
Lawrence coach Dirk Wedd knows his team’s inexperience will hold it back at times, but he said the seniors were helping along the young players.
“We’re not as far as I thought we’d be in terms of putting in our offense,” the coach admitted, “but we’ve only got two offensive linemen returning (Jones and Wittman). We’ve got nine new faces out there.”