VELVA - Toward the beginning of Velva High School's first football practice Wednesday, Aggies coach Larry Sandy welcomed his team by having the players run "hot laps" around the baseball field that sits adjacent to the team's practice field.
It was an early workout that set the tone for the rest of the 7 a.m. practice. Aside from the morning's last drill, there were no plays run from scrimmage. Instead, the practice focused on conditioning, organization and starting anew in preparation for the season opener against Bishop Ryan on August 24.
"Starting from the basics," Sandy said. "It's like a pyramid-type thing. You gotta get in all your basics. ... Start from the very beginning and then progress."
Seniors Luke Hollenbeck (45) and Kiel Werre (76) participate in a drill at Velva High School’s first football practice on Wednesday.
In addition to early-morning sprints, the linemen worked on sled exercises while receivers and defensive backs participated in pass-catching drills.
There was little contact on any of the drills and the players wore shoulder pads, helmets and shorts. After each exercise, athletes sprinted over to the next station and began a new drill.
"(I'm) a little sore," senior running back/corner back Nathan Schmaltz said. "They really want us to get moving so we get back in shape."
Said senior fullback/linebacker Taylor Barstad: "Running's never fun, but it was all not terrible."
The morning workout was the first of two two-hour long practices. Sandy said the camp gives him an opportunity to evaluate his roster and see what he has to work with by the time the season starts.
"You haven't seen these guys for a month and a half now and you have a pretty good idea of what you have, but you kinda gotta get things pieced together and kids can do a lot of (maturing) from the fall season to the next fall season," Sandy said. "Everybody gets their chance to prove themselves."
Among the 11 players Velva lost last year to graduation was starting quarterback Ty Bruner. Bruner led the team to a 7-3 record a year ago before being eliminated by Hazen in the second round of the Class A state playoffs.
Sandy expects junior Drew Effertz to step into Bruner's place. Effertz quarterbacked the junior varsity team last year.
"He had a nice camp this summer," Sandy said. "We went to a team camp down in Dickinson. I thought he did some nice things for us so I think he's ready to step in and fill (Bruner's) shoes for us."
Thirty-four players were present at camp and about 22 are expected to make the varsity team.