Are you ready for some football?

Brethren’s Hunter Wojciechowski (left) takes down a tackling dummy held by Garret Fraly (right) in the Bobcats’ opening practice on Monday. (Kyle Kotecki/News Advocate)

Brethren’s Hunter Wojciechowski (left) takes down a tackling dummy held by Garret Fraly (right) in the Bobcats’ opening practice on Monday. (Kyle Kotecki/News Advocate)

The dawning of August is a time time for high school athletes to dust off their helmets, lace up the cleats and partake in the first day of football practice.

The Bear Lake football team got their second-ever football season off to a good start with a solid first practice according to head coach John Prokes.

“For our first practice I think we looked great,” Prokes said. “… We’ve got a long ways to go but I’m comparing it to where we were at this time last year and it’s night and day. We’ve got 10 guys out there that played last year and they’re leading the guys that haven’t played and are playing for the first time. We’re kind of light years ahead of where we were last year which is a good thing.”

Bear Lake finished their first season with a 2-7 record. Prokes feels his players learned what it takes to make it through the rigors of a football season.

“(The players learned) the toughness that it’s going to take,” Prokes said. “These guys committed to the offseason, working out and just trying to get better and realizing that football is a different sport than basketball, baseball, cross country or anything else you play in.

“It’s physically demanding and you have to be mentally conditioned, and cardio-wise, but you have to have lots of strength,” Prokes continued. “A lot of guys committed to that in the offseason and it showed. So, I’m pleased with that.”

The Onekama Portagers look to follow their inaugural 8-man football season with a stronger showing now that they have a season of experience under their belts.

“I was real excited with the enthusiasm,” said Onekama head coach John Neph. “Our numbers looked good and we had a really good first practice. One of the things that really showed up today is that we’re in the second year of 8-man football and in the second year of a new offense. So things went a lot smoother compared to the first day from last year.”

Neph doesn’t have much time to get the players ready, as the Portagers face some heavy hitters early on in the upcoming season. Marion comes to Onekama to face the Portagers in their season opener August 24.

“We’ve got a very challenging schedule so we’ve got to use this part of August to really get our technique down and get our systems in place,” Neph said. “Especially early, with Marion being our first opponent. That’s going to be a very tough challenge for us. … We’ve got a lot of work to do before our first game.”

J.J. Randall is going into his first year coaching the Brethren Bobcats football team. He is taking over for Alvin Rischel, who stepped down at the end of last season. Randall looks to take things one day at a time.

“For myself, it’s game by game,” Randall said. “We look to build game by game and just build on our fundamentals and the details each week. My goal honestly is to get better each week throughout the season.”

With the first day of practice in the books, Randall felt encouraged.

“We looked pretty good,” Randall said. “We tried to keep their energy levels high. It’s new for me, coaching football at the varsity level with the program. We’re just trying to keep it as energetic and as fun as possible for these guys and to keep our numbers there and hopefully today’s practice worked towards that.”

Leave a Reply