To some, Monday was like a holiday.
With the calendar turning to August 1, it signaled the start of high school football as several teams returned to practice field in preparations for Week 0 games, which take place the final week of the month.
And with the first practice came plenty of high expectations as everyone is undefeated and hopeful a long offseason of hard work in the weight room and passing tournaments will pay off in the win-loss column. Nowhere is that more apparent than at Arcadia.
The Apaches started bright and early on Monday morning with a strictly conditioning practice before returning at night for a more normal workout that included gear handed out earlier in the day.
“It’s always exciting, the first practice of the year,” Arcadia head coach Andrew Policky said. “It’s like Christmas. Everybody was fired up and excited to be out there. We got all the boring stuff done, and the paperwork out of the way. I feel pretty good about it.”
Arcadia went 5-5 last season and was competitive in the Pacific League race before some close losses kept the Apaches from the playoffs. But with some key players back, optimism abounds on Duarte Road.
“I think we’ve got a shot to be pretty good, but everything is just talk now until we get the chance to play some games,” Policky said. “The kids have kind of seen what it could be, now it’s just a matter of us putting it all together and putting in the work required. Everything right now is just potential. We’ve got to turn that into some results.
Policky reports Arcadia has about 40-45 on the varsity roster. The Apaches open the season on Aug. 26 at Bell Gardens.
Under current CIF rules, coaches are limited to just 18 hours of practice a week in order to reduce injuries or overexertion.
“The days of practicing for three and a half hours two times a day are over,” said El Rancho head coach Adrian Medrano, who held his first official fall practice back at his alma mater. “The good thing about it is that this week it’s not 100 degrees. But we had some guys who were feeling the heat a little bit and struggling a little bit with our conditioning.”
With what Medrano estimates is just over 70 players between the varsity and junior varsity roster, and over 60 on the freshmen team, the Dons are bent on turning things around after last year’s 1-9 record. Two seasons ago, El Rancho went 8-3 and won the Del Rio League.
Medrano’s team will condition for the first three days of this week before getting serious with the equipment on. El Rancho opens the season on Aug. 26 against with a home game against Norwalk.
“We have a good core group of players who care about this football program,” Medrano said. “I wouldn’t say we have a whole lot of flash, but we do have a group that really cares and have bought in.”
Across town at San Dimas, the Saints waited until mid-afternoon to hold their first workout. With 80 players on the roster between the junior varsity and varsity teams, and 60 on the freshmen team, there was no shortage of athletes to whip into shape.
Saints head coach Mark Holman said that Monday would be all about running and condition … and, surprisingly, throwing the ball. That’s a shock, considering San Dimas’ bread and butter is running the ball.
“We don’t have shoulder pads today, so there’s not a lot of run blocking that we can do,” Holman said.
San Dimas didn’t win the Valle Vista League last season, but made a huge run in the playoffs to reach the Mid Valley Division championship game before losing to Sierra Canyon. The Saints open the season on Aug. 26 against arch-rival Bonita.