Football is back in the Brazos Valley until at least November.
Practices for most local schools began Monday with players in helmets only running through drills. The first day of full contact is Saturday with scrimmages on or after Aug. 15 and Aug. 21 before the season officially starts Aug. 30 for most teams. College Station, because it was the line local high school to have spring drills, will begin practices Aug. 12 with contact Aug. 17 and a scrimmage on or after Aug. 22.
Bryan and A&M Consolidated will host Richmond Fulshear and Cypress Woods at Merrill Green and Tigerland Stadium, respectively, at 6 p.m. Aug. 16.
Rudder, which officially started the Eric Ezar regime Monday, will play San Antonio Stevens in Pflugerville at 7 p.m. Aug. 17. The Vikings and Rangers then will face each other at 6 p.m. Aug. 22 at Merrill Green, while Consol travels to Tomball at 7:15 p.m. that day and College Station hosts Temple at 6 p.m. Aug. 23.
Bryan started its practices bright and early, with the Vikings taking the field at 8 a.m. Head coach Ross Rogers was pleased with his team’s workout and acknowledged how fast the season can fly by as Bryan hopes to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2016.
“We’ll blink and it will be the first scrimmage, and then we’ll blink, and it’ll be Thanksgiving,” he said. “That’s just how fast the season goes.”
He acknowledged that there’s plenty of work to be done and said his team focused on fundamentals and special teams drills. Workouts in the summer and 7-on-7 helped Bryan hit the ground running.
A&M Consolidated head coach Lee Fedora liked how his battle-tested team took the early season workout seriously despite sweltering heat. The Tigers were energetic, and Fedora was proud of how older players pushed their younger teammates.
“I think it’s great because they’re around the older guys and they’re learning stuff through them as they’re going through it and it helps them a bunch,” Fedora said. “That’s a big plus on that part of it. What I was real proud about our older guys right now is how they’re turning around and they’re doing the things they need to do to help those younger guys who are out there learning the system and everything.”
Rogers will rely on players playing both ways more than in recent history but thinks several players adjusted well. Juniors Kenny Collins and Darius Peterson didn’t play both sides of the ball as sophomores last season but have stepped up into their new roles with a year of varsity under their belts. Peterson is a free safety and will line up at quarterback in wildcat formations, and Collins plays wide receiver and linebacker. Rogers also was pleased with Christian Richardson at cornerback and tailback and said quarterback Nico Bulhof threw the ball well.
“We’ve always had some kids that work both sides of the ball,” Rogers said. “Christian certainly played both sides of the ball last year. Ended up more on defense but played a lot on offense. Played tailback and receiver.”
The first day of practice is exciting, but Fedora knows the real test is coming Tuesday after soreness sets in.
“I’m looking forward to tomorrow because a lot of these guys were worn out after our workout today,” Fedora said. “I told them to get home and get a lot of fluid in their body and get a lot of rest because that second day is when you have a lot of soreness and that’s when you see the mental toughness out of those guys and how they work through it.”
Ezar, who comes from Willis where he had been athletic director since 2013, replaces Greg Morgan who was 6-14 in two seasons.
Iola, getting jump on many schools, opened fall drills at 12:01 a.m. Monday under first-year coach Kerry Bamburg who replaces Dwayne Ross.