Feelings are mixed among Modesto-area coaches about the Aug. 17 start to the high school football season — the earliest ever in the Sac-Joaquin Section.
The reason for the mid-August kickoffs? The California Interscholastic Federation, the governing body of high school sports in the state, moved up its championships a week, according to Will DeBoard, the section’s assistant commissioner.
Central Catholic coach Roger Canepa has been coaching football for 34 years and for him, the change makes little difference.
“We have to make a week up somewhere in the summer, but not much changes,” Canepa said. “We are going to do the same things we have done. I don’t think it is as big of a deal as everyone thinks it is. We will find out, maybe it is.”
The first day of practice allotted by the section was on July 23 and for the first week, no pads were allowed, much to the distaste of Oakdale coach Trent Merzon.
“It was a non-contact week,” Merzon said. “I was not a fan.”
For Davis coach Tim Garcia, the earlier start will impact his lower-level teams.
“At our school, so many lower levels kids come out the first week of school and now the first week of school this year, we have a game on Friday,” Garcia said. “That means they will miss the first two weeks of football season as far as games go because they have to get the number of days for practices and stuff.
“It has had an impact on us as far as the early start, but we are doing the best we can with what we have right now.”
Downey coach Jeremy Plaa said he wasn’t worried about his varsity players because “they know what to expect.” However, he knows there might be a problem with the freshman team on the first day of school
“I worry about the freshmen in the future because I am sure when school starts on Monday, we will have five or six kids that want to join the football team and it gets rough because you have 45 freshmen that have been out here for three weeks,” Plaa said.
Gregori coach Jason McCoy found problems the first week of practice with getting questions on the eligibility with some of his players because administrators had yet to return to campus. He also worried about the heat.
Downey senior wide receiver and defensive back Bryce Peterson noticed a shorter vacation.
“It just came a lot quicker and it felt like we just had to put more work in a lot faster,” Peterson said.
Beyer coach Doug Severe said the earlier start affected their off-the-field schedule.
“I think starting earlier hurt us a little bit more because it cuts into the kids’ vacation time,” he said. “It’s earlier than normal for the kids, which threw our physicals and sports meetings like the second week of June right after school,” Severe said.
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