By Jeremy McDonald
GERVAIS, Ore.– At this point of the season, team’s are faced with another challenge ontop of who’s going to make Junior Varsity and Varsity and where your seated on the depth chart come the jamboree or the opening game.
The heat adds another faucet to the gauntlet of things as teams prepare for the long haul as the Cougars took to the field under 100-degree weather.
Yeah, every team goes through it, and some do their practices in the morning while others like Gervais embrace the heat as a way to break the same routine by creating some adversity for team’s like the Cougars to tackle.
“It’s definite mental thing,” said Head Coach Josh Crawford. “that’s why the kids don’t think they need the water, but I make them go get the water. To them they’re wondering, ‘why?’ At the end of practice, I’ll explain why. You don’t understand your tired, the body gets naturally tired the hotter it is.
“By giving them that we don’t need to instill putting any of our in-person in there, it’s there, they’re tired. They got to battle through the third quarter (and) that’s the heat right now.”
Crawford describes the third quarter reference as something he’s been telling the team the whole week. That yeah, you’re tired, but the game hasn’t ended yet, you have to keep going.
“We’re trying to tell them all week, ‘this is what it’s going to be like’,” started Crawford. “Your dead tired and the game hasn’t even ended.”
For the first hour or so of the 90 minute session, Gervais found themselves in full pads, walking through some offensive plays against air. Taking advantage of the opportunity to go through some plays to close out Week 1 before they enter jamboree week Monday.
With the breeze coming in from the North, it felt like a natural air conditioner in the daytime heat. Like a water break-isc feeling right in the middle of one of the few sessions Friday afternoon.
Though tough, the Cougs battled through like Warriors as they close out a very successful first week of camp.
“We’ve been just trying to power through to the best we could, just get out here and do the best we can and power through it,” said Calen Bichsel. “It all comes from determination to come out and play and stride to be better.”
“We’ve improved a lot, we’ve gotten out here and been able to hit and stuff. People are more enthusiastic to be out here.
In a turn of events during the last water break of practice, Crawford decided to let his team have some fun. Telling them to take off their shoulder pads and helmets, Crawford then proceeded to spilt up the team into two teams and told them to go have fun.
Offensive lineman were running routes, throwing passes. Skill players were playing offensive and defensive line.
All in the name of team bonding.
“I feel like it was fun,” said Brett Gieselman. “It was a good team building expierence because we were in the heat we got done running plays and coach decided to let us have a good team playing two-hand touch football.
“It was fun for the whole line cause we got to run routes and stuff and I just had a good time.”
As they gathered around their coaches, each of the coaches took turns speaking about enjoying the time they’ve having, because it’ll be gone in a blink of an eye.
For Bichsel, a senior lineman, he knows that it hits home for him as he enters the final season of his prep career.
“That really helps to get our mood up and look forward to the rest of the season,” “Taking it day-by-day and working as hard as we can and get as much as we can done to just take a step forward every, single day and get better.
“That’s all we’re looking for, is to get better every, single, day.”
As they heal up for five straight days of full padded practices in hopefully less than 100 degree weather, Crawford knows his squad will get used to the grueling demands of going full pads all week.
“They’re bodies will get used to the pads because most of them were telling me that they’re a little bit sore here, a little sore there,” “Just because they haven’t had pads on for nine months really what it is now.
“Going five days will be all about the reps, so now it’s more groomed to how the game is going to be rather than ‘just go out there and run through the plays’. Now it’s going to be, ‘you’re going to block this person’, the gaps will show better because now everyone has their pads on, now they’ll see things better. So we’re going to rep a ton next week.”
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Photos By Jeremy McDonald