The Lawrence High football team took its first official step toward the start of the season Monday, about a month after participating in a weeklong team camp.
Monday marked the first day of practice for fall sports, and the Lions opened with two practices — one session in the morning and one in the afternoon.
Football teams, per Kansas High School Activity Association regulations, were only allowed to practice in helmets Monday.
First day of LHS and FSHS football practice
View a gallery of images from the first day of football practice for the Lions and Firebirds.
Typically, the Lions operated their team camp at the beginning of the summer. This year, they waited until the middle of July, after participating in a few padded camps in June, to make it easier to implement offensive and defensive schemes prior to the start of the season.
“We’ve got a lot of our offense — we just have a lot of stuff in,” Lawrence coach Dirk Wedd. “With all of the stuff we did in June too, and then the July thing was really good. I’m pretty happy with where we’re at.”
For the first time in Wedd’s career, the Lions — who have about 95 players in the program — implemented a platoon for offensive and defensive players. In a platoon, usually no player starts on both offense and defense, helping increase the number of repetitions at a position in practice.
The system also eliminates the need for scout teams, giving the first-team offense and first-team defense a chance to square up against each other.
Free State High opened its first practice Monday with about 100 players in the program, including about 33 freshmen.
Last year, the Firebirds had a record-high freshman class of about 43 players.
“We’ve got pretty good numbers out,” Free State coach Bob Lisher said. “About typical, we’ve got about 100 kids total, freshmen through seniors. That’s exciting.”
The Firebirds split into position groups during their afternoon session, working on the fundamentals after the state’s two-week dead period without any workouts.
“As a coach, you never really want much of a dead period,” Lisher said. “We’ve had two weeks. Hopefully the kids got out there and got after it a little bit. ... This morning, everybody looked in pretty good shape. We didn’t push them that hard this morning, but we still looked pretty good.”
After strong numbers throughout summer workouts, Lawrence High’s boys soccer team opened tryouts with around 70 boys.
The first night of the two-day tryouts included a mile run, another 400-meter run, 2-on-2 drills and a full scrimmage.
“We like to keep between 55 and 60, so there will be a few cuts,” LHS coach Mike Murphy said. “It’s unfortunate that you have to cut kids. It’s also a good problem to have that kids want to try out for soccer.”
Free State’s boys soccer team conducted its usual conditioning test to open tryouts, which included more than 60 athletes.
“Most of them were here for the offseason conditioning,” FSHS coach Kelly Barah said. “Hoping most of them — if this (last) week didn’t kill them being in the air conditioning — that they will be ready to knock the test out of the way and play some soccer.”
Under second-year coach Amy Hoffsommer, Free State volleyball players knew what to expect out of the two-day tryout, which began Monday.
Part of that was a conditioning test — a minute of jumps, shuffles, sprints, backpedaling sprints and planks, followed by a minute of rest before beginning again.
There were about 56 girls competing for roster spots Monday.
“I was expecting more,” Hoffsommer said. “I thought we would hit into the upper 60s because our camp had a lot more. But it’s still a significant number. It’s still going to be a cut of 16 kids potentially at this point.”
Lawrence’s volleyball tryout, which could last until Thursday, also had 56 girls on the first day — the same number as Free State.
LHS coach Stephanie Magnuson said that number included about 28 freshmen, which is about average for each season.