Signs of prep season spotted

Published 11:39 pm Saturday, July 16, 2011

There it was, the first sign of the high school football season. I’m not sure about the exact day and time of the first sighting, but I saw it and so did others.

The “first sign” of the high school football season is that little notice in the On Deck column that reads, “Ironton football physical fitness to begin.”

Conditioning is about to start for not only Ironton but other area schools. Forget those 7-on-7 passing camps that are used more as a moneymaker than a workout. No pass rush, no defensive linemen to look over, and only a stopwatch to tell the quarterback it’s time to get rid of the ball.

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I remember former Ironton running back Dusty Lawless being on leave from the Marines and I asked him how boot camp went. I know boot camps by the armed forces will never be compared to the annual church picnic.

“It was pretty tough. It wasn’t as hard as physical fitness, but it was pretty tough,” said Lawless.

And to make things seem a little tougher, the weather forecast through Wednesday calls for temperatures in the 80s with thunderstorms. The forecast for Thursday morning when players report for a meeting at 7 a.m. and begin running an hour later is clear with highs in the 90s.

Of course it is.

The conditioning period is boring for fans, but it is the first step. It is a very necessary step, at least at the high school level. Junior high needs conditioning at a less intense level and elementary players need only a little conditioning.

After the physical fitness period, we move to step two with a glorified conditioning period of practice in shorts and helmets only. Then comes practice in full gear but no contact and finally it’s collision time.

Football more than any sport requires a mental toughness to go with the physical toughness. As Ironton coach Bob Lutz always says, “Football is not for everyone.”

That’s not to say someone can’t like football or enjoy it, but that physical and mental toughness is exactly that, tough.

Give a lot of credit to those who go out there on the football field and practice day after day in the heat wearing full gear and running into each other as well as that dreaded sled. Why do you think basketball coaches love players who have a football mentality and toughness? It makes a difference.

So the signs are out and the season is coming. Much like those Heinz ketchup commercials, the anticipation is keeping me and others waiting.

Here’s another sign. Season tickets are on sale.

Bring on Aug. 26.

Jim Walker is sports editor of The Ironton Tribune.