Euless Trinity, Southlake Carroll and Aledo. The three schools have combined for nine state titles in the past 10 years, and they all hit the practice fields for the first time Monday. While more than 100,000 players will endure wind sprints and conditioning drills at about 1,000 high schools across Texas, how it's done at Trinity, Carroll and Aledo is worth a visit.
Let's do some 40s
Day One conditioning at Aledo required everybody to complete 50 40-yard dashes -- within certain time limits.
"We had a couple of players that I had to get on," coach Tim Buchanan said.
"One linebacker was running seven flat, 7.8, 8.0 40s, which tells me that he didn't work out over the summer and that's the reason why he's backup linebacker."
The sprints were done at the team's indoor facility, and they got 2-minute breaks after 10 40s. Still, a few players couldn't "stomach" the workload.
"Nobody got hurt, nobody quit and it was pretty good," Buchanan said.
All-State running back Johnathan Gray took part in the test, urging teammates to finish strong.
"I don't look at it as punishment," Gray said. "I just look at it as getting back in shape and bettering myself."
This is the second year Buchanan has made his players do the 40s. Before that, it was a 1-mile run.
"It takes a lot longer for them to do this, but it's a good workout for them to get in shape," the coach said.
Monday's conditioning work, with 144 players in attendance, started at 7:30 a.m., but the 40s were done after 11 a.m.
Buchanan is concerned about the team being a little cocky right now.
"They're putting too much stock in the No. 1 rankings and you have to remind them that it doesn't matter what magazine ranks you where, the only thing that matters is how you finish," Buchanan said.
Perhaps with that in mind, today's practice begins at 6:30 a.m.
-- Travis Detherage
Three decades later...
Southlake Carroll coach Hal Wasson got his start in coaching 31 years ago, but still "I couldn't sleep last night," he said.
"When I don't get excited about it, that's when I'll quit."
The Dragons went four rounds deep in the playoffs last year, their best run since their last title in 2006.
"We're here to play six playoff games," receiver Peyton Williams said. "We have a lot of talent and experience. I've been on the varsity since I was a freshman and this is the best first practice we've had."
The Dragons had more than 75 athletes on the practice field Monday, split among the offense and defense.
There was a lot of passing with junior quarterback Kenny Hill showing excellent footwork and a smooth delivery.
"His ball comes off pretty good," Wasson said. "I was impressed with his passing."
Hill is the starter, but the Dragons worked four quarterbacks in drills.
"We have some depth there," Wasson said.
-- Mark Goodson
A constant reminder
One of the first things Euless Trinity players saw Monday morning when walking onto the practice field also happens to be the last thing they would like to see when football season is over.
Off in the distance, clearly visible and seemingly there as an omen from football's higher powers -- Cowboys Stadium.
The same Cowboys Stadium that will host the Class 5A State Championships in December.
It's a familiar place to the Trojans, but this year it might be more of a fight to get there.
Trinity was the first high school team to play at Cowboys Stadium, in the 2009 Herbstreit Classic, and the Trojans hung 80 points on an Arkansas team in the 2010 Herbstreit Classic.
They'll at least have to make the playoffs, and perhaps even make it to the state title game, to play there in 2011.
"We are right in view of it and we use that as motivation to do well and usually right at the end [of practice], when we do the Haka, we'll look right at it," coach Steve Lineweaver said. "We are going to have to do real well to get to the playoffs in order to have a chance to be there."
The Trojans worked fast Monday but didn't spend much time getting players back to conditioned form with sprints and drills. Both the offense and defense looked totally in sync and plays that weren't executed just how coaches like them were few and far between.
"We don't spend a lot of time saying, 'OK, let's get in shape and let's line up and run,'" Lineweaver said. "We try to learn something while we are running."
-- Matthew Reagan