The Mount Tahoma High School football team couldn’t wait to get started.
So the Thunderbirds held their first practice at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday.
Some schools began just after sunrise (such as Capital at 7 a.m.). Others practiced later in the morning (Curtis at 9 a.m.).
And when the temperatures heated up to near 90 degrees, a good number of schools kicked off the start of preseason high school camp past noon – including Lakes (2:30 p.m.), Steilacoom (3 p.m.) and Olympia ( 4 p.m.).
Each South Sound program does things a little bit differently but with one goal in mind – gearing up for that first week of the season starting Aug. 30, but with a bit of caution.
“You expect the first day to be the first day,” Lakes High coach Dave Miller said. “You teach and correct – and not yell like you are expecting to play the state championship game tomorrow.”
The News Tribune visited four schools Wednesday for the start of football practice.
CURTIS (SPSL SOUTH)
Blue thunder was sounding off all over Viking Field on Wednesday morning.
Coach Clay Angle watched as junior Scott Wismer began his tenure as the Curtis High quarterback.
With a first practice came the usual lack-of-execution mishaps – false-start penalties, wrong routes and high snaps.
In one team period, even the pace of play got under Angle’s skin.
“Nine plays in 10 minutes,” he told his offensive players. “Not the best, guys.”
The longer practice went on, the better Wismer and company performed.
Last year at this time, Wismer was a wide-eyed sophomore just trying to find a spot to help. He lined up as a third-string fullback. He rotated in at safety. He even was the holder on kicks.
Wismer’s leadership qualities and overall football intelligence prompted Angle and his staff to think outside the box for 2012. They approached Wismer about trying quarterback, which he has embraced.
“This is different. Last year, I was a sophomore. My head was spinning,” Wismer said. “This year, I know what the coaches are asking of me. I am ready.”
LAKES (SPSL 3A)
Some programs just look the part of a championship contender – even on the first day of practice.
This has been the Lancers’ mindset as long as Miller has been around. With an early-afternoon start time, 20 players arrived 90 minutes early to stretch out and talk among their teammates.
According to Washington Interscholastic Activities Association guidelines, schools aren’t allowed to practice in pads for the first three days of fall camp.
“Everybody does a lot of the same stuff without pads,” Miller said.
Miller said he needs to spend the 14 practices leading up to the first game as efficiently as possible. This Lakes squad is young – and got a lot younger after the longtime coach elevated 10 ninth-graders to the varsity.
“We probably will have eight-to-12 kids who will need to learn on the fly,” Miller said.
STEILACOOM (SPSL 2A)
The Sentinels have high expectations after coming off an appearance in the Class 2A state playoffs a season ago.
But at the start of afternoon practice, coach Brian Koch was nowhere to be found for the first 15 minutes of it.
He was busy in the locker room, tightening the screws on his players’ helmets and shoulder pads.
“Kind of like housekeeping,” Koch said.
At 34, Koch is the oldest member of the coaching staff, taking over at Steilacoom in 2007. He runs the same wing-T offense as his predecessor, Eric Miller. But as far as practices, he offers his own twists.
Koch debuted Wednesday the “Wheel of Misfortune” (out of the same mold as the “Wheel of Fortune” game show) for those players who break team rules.
Instead of opting to buy one online for $850, Koch built a spin wheel last spring out of scrap iron.
Some of the options players might land on during their spin include “50-Yard Tire Flip,” “100-Yard Bear Crawl,” and the one everyone wants to hit – the “Your Lucky Day” punishment waiver.
GIG HARBOR (NARROWS 4A)
No program in the South Sound needed football to start more than the Tides.
Their offseason was riddled with drama, including the dismissal of longtime coach Darren McKay in April.
Aaron Chantler, a 28-year-old Wilson High assistant, was hired as Gig Harbor’s new coach in May. He is a first-time head coach.
“He is a hard-working guy,” Tides middle linebacker Harrison White said. “He is fun to be around … but he holds you accountable.”
Visible everywhere on the practice field were T-shirts worn by coaches and players. The message read, “Leave No Doubt” – intended as a way to answer many of the offseason issues surrounding the program.
“That is kind of our slogan,” Chantler said. “Whatever we do, we are going to do to the best of our ability, giving 110 percent.”email@example.com 253-597-8442 blogs.thenewstribune.com/preps @ManyHatsMilles