After three days of waiting, Tucker Gust was losing his patience.
On Saturday, the Minot High School football team was finally able to practice in full pads and hit each other, much to the delight of the senior all-state defensive end.
"It's actually good to finally play football, ya know," Gust said. "This is what the game is about. This is what makes it so much fun. Everyone loves our first day of contact."
Sophomore Deonte Delisser is tackled by sophomore Hunter Duttenhefer in a cornerback tackling drill at Minot High School’s football practice Saturday.
Magicians coach Barry Holmen said the defense is ahead of the offense early on and that his biggest concern is the offensive line, which lost all five starters from a year ago. Gust and fellow defensive lineman Bryan Doerr figure to get significant playing time on offense.
Defensively, there are far fewer question marks. The Magi return several key contributors from a year ago, among them Gust, Doerr, all-state junior linebacker Kolton Larson, junior linebacker Brady Lampert and junior quarterback Alex Yanosko, who worked in the secondary on Saturday.
"Our defense has to lead us early," Holmen said. "We get new kids in and (there's) way more terminology and way more to learn on the offensive side. Defense will lead us."
There were two defensive team drills at Saturday's practice. The first was a seven-on-seven passing drill that tested the quarterbacks, wide receivers, cornerbacks and safeties. An 11-on-11 live contact drill came later in the morning and players were allowed to make contact above the waist.
Even on obvious incomplete passes, coaches instructed defenders to run to the ball, scoop it up and run back in the other direction. Among those sprinting toward the football was Lampert, who said a couple of his goals this season is to lead the team in tackles and record five interceptions.
"We're just clicking," Lampert said. "I think we're going to be good."
Said Holmen: "Good defense means you hustle. Football is tackling and blocking and on the defensive side, you get to the ball."
The practice roster is approaching 115 players, but there haven't been any disputes between teammates through the first four days, Holmen said.
On more than one occasion Saturday, juniors and seniors gave sophomores advice on how to get better, with the bulk of the instruction centered around being around the football on defense.
"In four days, I haven't had a discipline problem," Holmen said. "That really makes me happy. I think kids like being around each other and that's half the battle."