By Kyle Lovern
Two a day practices officially started in West Virginia on Monday as high school players hit the football field to start conditioning drills.
The first few days, teams practice in two different sessions. Unlike in years past, where most teams practiced early in the morning, and then went home only to come back for the second practice in the evening.
A lot of coaches now, because of the long drive some players have to make, will practice around 8 or 9 a.m. for a couple of hours. Then they will take a break for about an hour and come back for the second session of two-a-days.
Many players were hoping for the continued fall-like temperatures the region experienced last week. But, no luck with that as the hazy, humid summer weather returned this week just in time for practices to begin.
Players are given plenty of breaks and coaches make sure they stay hydrated. Unlike in years past, when older coaches did not give many water breaks.
The rules make sure that the health of the players comes first.
The first few practices players don helmets, shorts and T-shirts.
Still, if these 15 to 18 year olds come into fall camp out of shape, it can make it more difficult for them. Some players get sick and have a tougher time if they have not worked out on their own to come into the first week of practice in shape.
Then after they get a few days under their belts, they are allowed to go full pads. Once they get into full pads, then contact drills can start.
Longtime coach Yogi Kinder is starting his fourth year at Mingo Central. Kinder, who coached at Matewan for many years, took over that program after the consolidation of Matewan, Williamson, Gilbert and Burch.
Tony Clusky, another longtime coach, is coaching Tug Valley. Clusky was a former assistant at Matewan and then coached Williamson for several years. This is his second stint as head coach of the Panthers. He is also the athletic director at the school.
Most coaches try to have meetings and hand out equipment a few days ahead of the first day of practice so they can jump right into training. There are always a couple of players that come out a day late or don’t decide to play until the last minute.
Players are required to have a physical before they can start practice.
The last few years coaches have been told to put an emphasis on head and neck injuries and players receive instructions on the proper techniques of tackling and blocking.
Schools in neighboring counties like Logan, McDowell, Wayne and Wyoming also began practice.
All schools are allowed to participate in two scrimmage sessions.
The regular season for Mountain State schools starts on Friday, August 29th.
Both Mingo County schools will hit the road for their season openers. The Miners will travel to Wyoming East, while the Panthers will hit the road and head up to Boone County to take on Sherman.
(Kyle Lovern is the Sports Editor for the Williamson Daily News. He can be contacted at email@example.com or at 304-235-4242, ext. 2277 or on Twitter @KyleLovern.)