Monday, teams across the parish were able to get helmets and shoulder pads on. Thursday, the players will be in full pads.
Pads and school begin around the same time every year, partially because of the oppressive summer heat, which, in some places in Louisiana, can jump up over 100 degrees, and that’s before you take the heat index into account.
Still, there is plenty of time before the first game of the season. This year, that will take place on August 31. Coaches have been able to teach the game up until Monday. Now, it’s time to take it to the next level.
Coach Stephen Lotief of Kaplan High School says his boys will begin getting their shots in.
“It brings up the level,” he says. “It’s time to crack some heads.”
The feeling is mutual across the rest of the parish.
Currently, Erath’s football squad is at camp in Mississippi. Coach Doug Dotson is immersing the boys into football practice with three-a-day practices for a few days before returning home for the end of the week in time for full pads.
From all the way out in Gueydan to right here in Abbeville, high school football players are slipping into the pads, some for the first time, some for their last. Last year’s juniors are now the team leaders, and the top dogs from junior high are now the new kids on the block.
For coaches who are new to their teams, it’s a chance for a clean slate. At least, that’s Dotson’s take on it. At the same time, coaches like Larry Breaux at Abbeville High School are relying on old hands who know their way around the team to help lead the players on the field. It’s been hard to gauge the players’ abilities on the field given a lack of contact and action, but that doesn’t stop the learning process.
“Education is a major part of football,” Lotief said. His words mimic those of Tommy Byler of North Vermillion.
“We do a lot of teaching here,” according to Byler.
The heat will still be a big issue on the field. Luckily, the weather looks good for the players, who could be seeing rain every day for the next week.
And while the highs are lower locally than in other parts of the state, temperatures in the upper 80s while in full pads are still tough.