The Daily Register - Harrisburg, IL
  • Prep Football: Kickoff Time

  • Football takes its place on the first day across Illinois
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  • The scene was set with green grass, blue skies, water bottles and whistles.
    The first official day of high school football kicked off across the Land of Lincoln Monday, two days earlier on the calendar than in the past, but the message was the same in Harrisburg and Eldorado.
    A pair of coaches in Harrisburg’s Jason Roper and Eldorado’s Brandon Hampton, welcomed players to their respective practice fields where fundamentals were the message being preached.
    Hampton said it was the most exciting time as a coach and as a player.
    “This is the time when you start playing for real,” the Eagles’ head coach said. “I like it because there is some major accountability as we start preparing for August 29th.”
    Hampton said the first words out of his mouth at Monday’s 8:30 a.m. practice was about developing a consistent basis of doing your job and doing it when you get tired or hurt.
    “That doesn’t take any talent,” Hampton said. “That’s a discipline thing. Right now, we’re working on how to get better on how to do things. They know what to do, our job is to teach them how to do it right and how to do it better.”
    Roper echoed many of the same sentiments at Harrisburg, where the Bulldogs took to the field at 2 p.m.
    “This is the time of the year when you work on fundamentals, but you can’t beat the weather. I don’t know if it’s going to last or how long it’s supposed to, but it looks like it can be this way all week.”
    Roper appreciated the early start, moving from a Wednesday to a Monday, where the Bulldogs’ head coach said it gives him, not only more time to spend with the kids, but more time to prepare.
    On the issue of weather, both coaches were treated to more than seasonable conditions for early August in southern Illinois, where climate and temperatures are usually a concern.
    “It’s tough for your kids because they have been sitting around for 11 or 12 days and it’s an adjustment for them to get their bodies going and get it going in the morning,” Hampton said. “We’re not where we need to be from a conditioning standpoint, but that will defintely be a point of emphasis this first full week of camp and hopefully this time next week, this will be a strength. It amazes me how quickly a high school body can get into shape. Those kids can really turn the corner in the next eight or 10 days.”
    Page 2 of 2 - In the coming days, players will be in helmets (until after Tuesday). On Wednesday, teams can wear helmets and shoulder pads until Friday and can go in full gear starting Saturday.
    The focus on the first week of camp for both coaches will be polishing fundamentals in the hopes of shining in two weeks.
    “We’re trying to get people in position where they are going to help us the best,” Roper added. “So far the kids have done a good job. We only have helmets on so it’s hard to do a whole lot of contact. It’s more about memorization and trying to get people in the right spot as quickly as possible.”
    Both Harrisburg and Eldorado open their season at home on August 29th this year. The Bulldogs will play Mt. Carmel at Taylor Field, while the Eagles welcome Sesser-Valier-Waltonville-Woodlawn at Boz Adams Field. Kickoff time for both games is 7 p.m.
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