BELDING — Football season is officially under way now that the first full-team practices of the season are taking place.
Belding’s football team had their first full-team practice Monday, and coach Joe Schwander was ready for his team to get going.
“We’re really excited, the kids are excited,” Schwander said before practice started. “It’s like Christmas in August. We’ve spent the last seven months trying to get to this point, to get to where you have your team assembled, finalized and with all the camps and fundraising.”
So now it’s time to “have fun,” according to Schwander.
“All the work is done in what you do during the winter and during the summer,” he said. “Now it’s go out there and put it all together.”
The first three days of practice are without pads, mandated by rules of the Michigan High School Athletic Association. During those days, Schwander said he will be getting the team in shape and ready to go.
“I think you’re trying to instill a work ethic in your kids if they don’t already have it, which our guys, they already have,” he said. “They work extremely hard. So you try to push tempo and conditioning and technique. You do a lot of technique stuff with blocking and tackling, you can install a lot of schemes. With us it’s not much different than when we have pads on.”
There is a lot of things that Schwander is doing different from this time last season. In fact, Schwander said “everything” is different.
“Last year at this time nobody knew anything,” he said. “Now our starting point is farther ahead. Our kids know what’s going on. And the kids that don’t, like the sophomores that came up and didn’t do as much on that level, our guys have done a great job in the summer coaching them up. They start learning on the fly faster. That’s different from having to teach 60 kids the whole system from scratch.”
The practices themselves are structured differently also, according to Schwander.
“We’re doing different things to make sure that we’re in shape,” he said. “We have 30-some guys on our roster and all our guys will be playing all the time. We’re trying to make practice more competitive, more fun and don’t let the kids know we’re conditioning them in the process. They’re going to be so concerned about competing and getting after it. But by the end of practice the goal is to have them be tired and leave it all on the field.”
Belding will open the season at home when they face the Greenville Yellow Jackets in the annual rivalry game at Rudness Field Aug. 29.