By Fred J. Robledo, Staff Writer
When high school football teams gather in the spring and regroup in the summer, one of the biggest goals throughout camp is practicing on Thanksgiving, which eight area teams have the privilege of doing today after advancing to the second round of the CIF-Southern Section divisional playoffs. For South Hills, practicing on Thanksgiving is almost a tradition. The Huskies haven’t missed a second-round appearance this decade, and have advanced to the second round 16 of the last 17 years.
The last Thanksgiving practice the Huskies missed was in 1998, and prior to that was 1992. To continue reading click thread
No. 2 South Hills (9-2) escaped last week’s opening round of the Southeast Division playoffs with a 28-21 victory over Bonita, and will be on the road against Crescenta Valley (8-3) in Friday’s second round at Glendale High School at 7 p.m.
“When you look back and think about it, we have been very fortunate,” South Hills coach Steve Bogan said. “Your goal is always to be the best you can be, to be in the hunt and practice on Thanksgiving, because that means your a step closer to your ultimate goal.
“But the irony is, you’re never satisfied with it, only one team is going to be happy when it’s all over. You have to move on and start thinking about the bigger goals.”
South Hills is the only area team to advance to the second round every year this decade.
“What I have always believed is just to keep working on the next game, and the next play,” Bogan said. “You have to keep moving forward. If you become a museum in your mind you start taking things for granted, and you think (what you’re accomplishing) is not that big of a deal, but it is a big deal. For me personally, keeping that effort mentally and physically is a big part of what we try to do.”
Like most teams, South Hills will have a morning practice then turn the players loose to be with their families.
“You don’t do a lot of things different, it’s your normal Thursday practice, just a little earlier,” Bogan said. “On Friday we will have a team breakfast, then a walk-through and be ready to go.”
Down the street West Covina (7-4) will be preparing to take on top-ranked Charter Oak (10-1) in another Southeast second-round game at 7 p.m. Friday.
The Bulldogs have made it to the second round five of the past six years and advanced to the semifinals last year.
Bulldogs coach Mike Maggiore said today’s morning practice will include family members.
“It’s a special day, you don’t mind having family and friends around,” Maggiore said. “Afterward, we will have some food for the kids to eat, watch some film and then get ready for Friday.”
The last time Baldwin Park advanced to the second round was 1992, a year after the school’s second divisional title in 1991.
The Braves (9-2) are facing Whittier Christian (8-3) in the Mid-Valley Division second round on Friday at Whittier College, but don’t have anything special planned today, just the normal routine.
“I haven’t had a chance to think about how long it has been since we had a Thanksgiving practice, but that’s always the goal,” Baldwin Park coach James Heggins said. “You want to be part of that short list of teams that gets to keep playing, that’s what it’s all about.”
Heggins said making sure everyone is healthy and in good spirits is important.
“We will do things as normal as we can (today),” Heggins said. “It won’t be very intense and not very long, the kids want to be with their families.
“At this point in the season you are who you are, you just have to sharpen things up and leave it all out there come Friday.”
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