Perhaps Larry Shively will get a little better sleep before this year's season opener against Volunteer.
That's because the Happy Valley head football coach has more practice time on his hands during the 2013 preseason. The Warriors don't play until Aug. 23 at Volunteer.
“Last year I didn't do as good of a job as I should have,” said Shively, who took his players through the first official day of football practice Monday. “We opened on Aug. 17, and I tossed and turned the night before. I really felt we were rushed, and didn't do things the way we needed.”
Happy Valley lost at Sullivan Central to open the season, en route to a 3-7 finish after 8-3 and 6-5 records in playoff campaigns in 2010 and 2011, respectively.
With the Warriors' triple-option offense, this preseason's extra week of practice won't necessarily mean a bunch of gadget plays are added to the mix. Instead, it will be more opportunities for fine tuning.
“Idle time for the coaching staff is sometimes a bad thing,” said Shively. “We're good when we do what we do, running the triple-option offense and power football. When we get good at it, we're pretty hard to stop. We do beg, borrow and steal from other offenses, but it has to fit our system.”
Shively said one change he hopes to make is bending his own offensive rules.
“I have to be more flexible and not as dogmatic,” said Shively, who is 17-15 in three seasons at The Valley. “We have to tailor our stuff to what our kids can do.”
Making things a little easier has been a mild summer heat-wise. The Warriors' scheduled their practices from 5-9 p.m. to simulate “game time weather,” but who really knows what weather August and September will bring after a rainy and cooler summer?
“The weather has been pleasant,” said Shively. “The kids are in better emotional condition than last year because the cooler temperatures make it so much easier to practice.”
Over the next two weeks, Shively said area football practices might look a little ugly from an excitement standpoint. The basics and fundamentals are focused on heavily, and Shively said his focus is working on getting his kids to play hard.
“The No. 1 compliment you can receive as a coach is when you hear, 'Coach, how did you get your kids to play so hard?' ” said Shively.
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It was just one day, but Science Hill head football coach Stacy Carter got a peek at the distance his team has to travel for success.
Monday's first official day of practice lasted a little over 2½ hours, and there's plenty of room for improvement.
“Today wasn't very good, but first days are usually not very good,” said Carter. “We feel like we have a good bunch, but we're just so young and inexperienced.
“When I say we're young, we have guys who are just learning how to practice at a Friday night pace. You can tell kids, but until they see how it is. … that's where we're at now.”
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Prep signing: Former Tennessee High standout Hunter Jones has made his college choice official. Jones recently signed to play basketball at Milligan College.