Roger Canepa estimates he’s been coaching football for 34 years.
And there’s no letting up.
“There’s going to be a day when you aren’t motivated,” he said. “I’m not there. I’m still motivated.”
That energy will be out in full force late Sunday night at Central Catholic High’s David Patton Field, where the Raiders get a jump-start on the first day that Sac-Joaquin Section football teams can practice.
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Football teams can start practice Monday, with the rest of the fall sports the following Monday except water polo, which can start practice Aug. 13.
The Sunday midnight practice has been a ritual for Canepa and his team.
There will be Mass at the school, a dinner, going over team rules, choosing captains, a team meeting, watching a highlight film of last year’s team followed by practice at midnight.
After practice, it’s showers and lights out at 2:30 a.m. for a locker-room sleepover. Then, players will wake up and have a team breakfast before calling it a day..
“We’re probably going to have 50 or so people out there for our first practice,” he said. “It’s pretty special.”
It’s going to be important for Central Catholic to make every minute count given its always tough preseason schedule.
The Raiders open Aug. 17 at Clovis West. The next week, they travel to Concord to face powerhouse De La Salle, which will be coming off its own tough opener against Folsom.
From there, it’s their home opener in Week 3 against St. Mary’s in the Holy Bowl followed by Lincoln of Stockton. The Raiders open the Valley Oak League campaign Sept. 14 against Manteca.
“There are no cupcakes on our schedule,” Canepa said.
Soon, he’ll make the call on the starting quarterback. Currently, there are three players battling for the No. 1 job — Kyle Jackson, Dalton Durrossette, a transfer from Ceres High, and Dylan Everhard.
It appears the Raiders will be strong in numbers, unlike last year. Canepa said he’ll field 43 players on varsity and more than 90 in the program. Expected to get the bulk of the carries at running back will be 6-foot-1, 206-pound Dawaiian McNeely, a much sought-after recruit.
During practice next week, the score of Central Catholic’s final game last season will stay on the scoreboard — Del Oro 23, Central Catholic 12. That came in the Division II semifinals. It’ll be a stark reminder for the Raiders, Canepa said.
“We don’t want to end like that (this year), he said.
He knocked out Eduardo Dantas, a former two-time bantamweight champion, in 58 seconds.
McDonald posted on social media: “A bone in my hand near my wrist was shattered into multiple pieces when I was finishing the fight. Although the break is severe, the pieces of the bone are still 80% in their original placement. So I don’t need surgery to correct the alignment at this time. We are going to let it heal naturally fro 6 weeks and assess it afterward ... “
In his successful Bellator debut in December, McDonald broke his right hand.
Meanwhile, Dantas suffered a broken leg in the fight.
The victory in Oklahoma raised McDonald’s record to 19-4 overall, 2-0 in Bellator.
WATER POLO — The Modesto-Stanislaus water polo program received a good jump-start heading into junior nationals this weekend and the next.
The boys and girls 16-and-under teams finished first and the girls 14-and-under team finished second at the Cal State Games last weekend in the San Diego area.
On Saturday, three boys teams will compete in the Bay Area at the USA Water Polo National Championship.
The tournament is made up of three divisions for each age group — the elite “Championship” division along with the Classic and Invite divisions.
Eric Corgiat, a coach with Modesto-Stanislaus, said his program’s 16U boys have a shot at winning the club’s first boys medal at the Juniors since 1971.
The tournament is spread out among various sites. The boys 14s open at Campolindo High in Moraga, the 16s at Los Gatos High and the 18s at Northgate High in Walnut Creek.
You can follow the weekend’s action at www.usawaterpolo.org/juniorcolympics.
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