This is the third part in a series that will run throughout the summer, highlighting the different ways local high school football teams are preparing for the upcoming season.
A day before the Fourth of July, a bunch of Turlock Christian High football players were stomping on what many wouldn't even call a football field. Though it was morning and the heat wave for that day had yet to arrive, the Eagles were sweating and running and passing and working.
They wouldn't have it any other way.
The Eagles are just like every other football team in the Sac-Joaquin Section, tirelessly working during the offseason. They're dedicated to summer workouts, even though the season opener isn't until weeks away. Heck, they can't even put on helmets and pads until early August.
Again, they're out there working. Even if it's on the patch of field that's near the school's softball field, one without the markings of a proper gridiron.
They have a lot to prove, considering the 2009 run ended in one of the worst ways possible. Turlock Christian was in a do-or-die situation with Denair High — the Southern League rival that sits on the same road as the Eagles — in the season finale with the winner advancing onto the playoffs.
On the night of Nov. 13, 2009, Denair came away with a 39-10 win.
“We're still getting over it,” senior James Riley said.
So, that's one of the things on the Eagles' minds this summer, as they're working toward improving on their 6-4 record from 2009.
“We need to get a lot of practice so we can keep on getting better,” senior Stetson Tucker said.
This week, they get a chance at the full football experience, as they'll compete in pads and helmets at the Competitive Edge Football Camp at Sonoma State in Rohnert Park, a place that will attract teams from all over California as well as others from out of the state, such as Kalaheo High in Hawaii.
The Turlock Christian players will get to pass, run and — perhaps the most exciting element of the camp — tackle/hit against other players.
Eagles coach Rusty Lyon likes the idea of the camp. He said it'll give his players a better understanding of what he expects from them during the upcoming season, one they hope will end with a playoff appearance. So he invites his players to lift weights at the school's weight room from Monday to Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. They also practice about twice a week, working on passing plays and conditioning.
The Eagles also participate in a passing league.
It all helps, Lyon said.
“There are a lot of complexities to an offense, there's a lot of complexities to a defense,” he said. “There's so many little things you need to know, so many assignments and proper techniques we need to execute. It's sheer repetition. So when you're in a game Friday night, not everything will look so brand new to you.”
To contact Chhun Sun, e-mail email@example.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2041.