Excitement galore as high school football is back

Curtis Harris couldn’t wait.

He had a sleepover Thursday night with Nashua High School North football teammate Colby Marshall and told his buddy when he woke up Friday morning, “It’s time to play football, let’s go.”

Nashua South’s Kyle O’Connor felt the same way. He set his alarm for 7 a.m.but bounced out of bed around 6.

“I was so excited,” he said. “I’ve been going to college camps all summer and was nipping at the bit to get out here. Just super excited.”

They’re both happy kids who are glad summer is basically over.

Yes, it’s baaaaaack…High school football. It all started around the state on Friday, with practices at various times. Remember, teams are quite limited now with what they can do. They can’t have full -fledged contact double sessions until after five days in, with the Nashua teachers reporting next Friday, that basically leaves maybe one day.

They can have walk throughs, though, and then a practice later, which is what Nashua North and South essentiall did.

It’s not the most exciting day, but it serves its purpose.

“It feels great, but at the same time when you’re just sitting there, it kind of gets boring at times,” Harris said. “But you also have to have the mentality to keep your head into it and stay focused.”

O’Connor said the atmosphere of just getting back out there helps.

“It’s awesome,” he said. “There’s some new kids, we’re trying to into the program, and get all the veteran players back on the field getting right. It’s exciting.”

There’s a lot of small nagging details that can go into the first day. North coach Dante Laurendi flip-flopped things due to a few red tape snafus, having a morning walk through and afternoon full practice rather than the planned reverse.

“It’s a little chaotic,” he said. “No matter how organized you get or prepared you get, there’s always kids who register late, or impact tests that don’t come back clear so they have to retake the test, physicals that don’t come in on time. Kids are waiting for waivers still because they signed up late. Equipment fixes, helmet doens’t fit. You kind of build that into the morning.

“We flipped (the schedule) a little bit to try and get the chaos out of the way.”

Coaches also will give The Talk.

“You want to go over the ground rules, the expectations, the standards,” Laurendi said, “for the new guys coming in and re-enforce it with the guys that are there.”

Now, do you have to very The Talk every year? Remember, the returning upper classmen will have heard it all before.

“It varies very little,” Laurendi said. “It’s usually the same welcome back stuff and then you want to go through the housekeeping stuff.

“It’s great to be back because it’s been a long off-season.”

Remember, there’s more contact between coaches and players then ever before. North had a 7-on-7 program in a few monrings over the summer with some local schools, including Bishop Guertin and Souhegan. South had summer camp with freshmen, a strength clinic in the spring, lockers and equipment were handed out in the spring. But sure, there was a lot of administrative things that needed attention just like at North, and likely schools all over.

Then a morning walk through with basic offense and defense formation looks. But by afternoon, it was time to go out and practice for real.

“We got a ton of work done,” Knight said. “There’s just all those nuts and bolts you’ve got to take care of. It’s all done. Now it’s just a matter of getting out, getting better.”

That’s the way it is everywhere. It’s a whole new year, and optimism reigns supreme.

“This group is really, really excited for this season,” Knight said. “I’m real happy with a lot of the work that a lot of these guys put in. They worked really hard. Some of these kids this summer they just put a ton of time in. It was like a full time job for them.

“Man, I tell you, I’m excited for it. I’m not sure what we’ve got, but…it’s one thing to test out, but can we play football?”

It’ll be fun to find out once the season opens on Friday, Sept. 6. The first scrimmages can be held beginning next Saturday. Mixing in the returnees with the newcomers is always an experiment.

“It’s very exciting, coming back and seeing all your friends and knowing you’ll be playing with them for the season,” Harris said with a huge grin. “It’s very hyped up, and exposure to new people…

“I’m ready.”

Yup, ready for some football.

Tom King may be reached at 594-1251,tking@nashuatelegraph.com, or@Telegraph _TomK.