By LARRY GAGE
Special to the PRESS
Football practice got underway for the Port Isabel High Tarpons on Monday in typically hot and dry August conditions.
The Press sought out head P.I. coach and athletic director Monty Stumbaugh in his office Monday afternoon to find out how it all went down.
“The kids worked hard – had a really good attitude,” Stumbaugh said. “Like I thought, some came in in shape and some didn’t. I knew it wasn’t going to be 100 percent. There should have been more – I was a little disappointed. It’s a whole lot easier to get out of shape than in.”
The emphasis this week is on conditioning. “Everything we did, we were moving,” Stumbaugh told the Press. “Pitch the ball and sprint 10 yards, 10 yards, and 10 yards. That’s how we get our conditioning in.”
Even more emphasis is placed on player health and safety, which involves more than just drinking lots of water. “We talk to the kids about taking care of their bodies – eating properly, drinking the proper fluids, proper rest,” Stumbaugh said.
“The kids that we had to sit, hold out for a little bit, they didn’t eat,” Stumbaugh told the PRESS. “You’ve got to have energy. Everybody today was all right. Our kids get water whenever they need it. We tell them, ‘If you’re not feeling right, tell a coach right now and we go from there.’”
Senior running back Alex de los Santos described, before Wednesday morning’s practice, the renewed sense of purpose he feels for the new season. “Myself, I didn’t work hard enough last year, so I’m working harder. Every day I try to get better. Last year I missed a lot of practice days. My speed wasn’t there and I didn’t have the energy, and now I’m getting all that back. I love to play football.”
Another senior, two-way lineman Juan Barrera said, “It’s going good. It’s faster this year. They expect more from us. We didn’t like the way it ended last year and we want to change that.”
The University Interscholastic League (UIL), the governing body for Texas high school sports, has strict rules on the number of hours allowed for daily practices. Teams can go for three hours with a short break, or five hours total with a two-hour break in between separate sessions.
Stumbaugh favors the former system. “We have a lot of kids that work, so we practice in the morning so the kids can work in the afternoon. I’ve done it the other way and that was always kind of a pain. So, once we have them here we get our work in and let them go. We go about an hour and 15 minutes, take about a 15 minute break, go another hour and 15 minutes. We’re through by 11 (a.m.).”
The team photo will be taken this Friday, Aug. 7 and the team will work out for about an hour afterwards. The morning practice schedule will continue through Friday, the 21st. Classes start Monday, the 24th, and the team will shift to an after-school schedule at that time.
The team will have its first scrimmage at Donna North on Friday, August 14, and its second and final one at home the following Friday, August 21.
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