MORRIS – Ever since the final horn sounded on Morris’ 49-14 loss to Kaneland to end last year’s football season, the Redskins have been waiting for Monday, the first official day of practice.
Even though the various groups on the team have been to different camps and 7-on-7s throughout the summer, Monday was the IHSA’s official start date.
“We had a camp at the end of July,” Morris coach Alan Thorson said. “So this is basically an extension of that. We are still doing a lot of conditioning and a lot of one-on-one drills since we are just in helmets for a couple of days. It’s more of a review when we run plays, but it’s good to get everyone together as a team and on the same page as far as what we want to accomplish.”
The main goal the Redskins want to accomplish in 2014 is getting that memory of last year’s 3-6 final mark out of their minds. It was the first time since 1976 that Morris had won fewer than four games and only the second time since then – 2000 being the other – that the Redskins lost more games than they won.
“That (the 3-6 record) hasn’t set well with anyone,” Thorson said. “Not the coaches, not the fans and definitely not with the kids. They had a chip on their shoulders this year, that’s for sure. They have since last November when we started lifting weights.
“They want to move on from last year, for sure, but they also feel like they have something to prove. These seniors this year have put a lot of work in, and with this junior class coming in, there’s a different mix. We really like what we’ve seen.”
Although Monday was the first official day the IHSA allowed the team to be together, there were still restrictions. The team will practice with just helmets for two days before putting on shoulder pads Wednesday and getting into full pads Saturday.
That, Thorson said, is when the real fun will start.
“These day these kids are really getting excited for is Saturday,” he said. “We will do mostly conditioning today and Tuesday, and then put on shoulder pads Wednesday. That’s a little better, but the big day for these guys is Saturday. That’s when they can get in full pads and hit somebody for real for the first time in a while.”
The Redskins hope that experience will be on their side this season. Last season, Morris was a young team, having seen most of the starters from the 2012 Class 5A state runner-up graduate. This year, Thorson says there will be 15 or more players that saw significant playing time last year in the starting lineup.
“We’re excited to have that many guys returning,” Thorson said. “It will definitely make things different than they were last year. We have a lot of guys with a year under their belts, plus they have that attitude of wanting to prove something after last year. We are hoping that will be a good combination for us.”