Vikings Begin With Three-Hour Workout
The Union Pines football program had its first official practice of the 2012 season Monday evening in Cameron.
In total 73 student-athletes were on hand for the three-hour workout that began at 6 p.m. down on the practice fields at Union Pines High.
Of that group 29 were designated as varsity players and began practice with offensive drill sessions, while the remaining 44 were in the Vike junior varsity jerseys and began the day working on defensive drills.
“I thought we would be close to 30 players on the varsity team to start the year and it looks like 29 is what we are going to end up with,” said fourth-year head coach Ryan Riggan. “That number is fine with me.
“I am happy with our overall turnout today, and I am sure a handful of kids will come out in the freshman class once school starts, like they always do.
“Varsity-wise we knew exactly who was coming out this year so there were no surprises there. I am particularly pleased with the young turnout, however — to have almost 50 of them is a good thing.”
According to North Carolina High School Athletic Association rules, football teams are not allowed to dress out in full pads and have live-action contact until the sixth day of practice, as the Viking players were wearing helmets with jerseys, shorts, socks and cleats Monday evening.
On the third day of practice, Riggan said his teams will add shoulder pads, and on the sixth day of practice Union Pines will be allowed to participate in full-contact workouts, including live-action hitting in scrimmages and drills.
On the first day of official practice, Riggan and his coaching staff were watching out for some particular things as they worked with the players out on the field.
“With the older guys we want to see them in pretty good shape,” he said. “Once guys become a part of our program during freshman year, then we expect them to make it out for our summer workouts. A lot of this crew has been here all summer and are in pretty good shape, but there are three or four that have not been and it shows.
“Then with the young guys we are looking for them to just come out and give really great effort and try very hard. As a whole, so far, that group has been pushing themselves and are having a great day.”
For the Vikings, practice does not just include on-the-field football activities; it also involves weightlifting workouts.
The varsity players began the first day of practice in the weight room before strapping on their lids and descending the stairs out to the practice field for station drills, calisthenics, position work and the running through of offensive plays and defensive schemes.
“The older guys will be on the weights three days a week,” Riggan said, “and the younger guys will be lifting twice. Basically, the older players are going into the end of a rotation as they will be in a power phase for the next two weeks and then they will be in maintenance.
“With the younger guys we are doing a lot of teaching and maintenance for the ones that have been here over the summertime. Our rising freshmen are ahead of the curve already, so we want them to just keep progressing.”
Strength, conditioning and endurance are all going to be a critical factor for the Vikings over the course of their season, according to Riggan.
“The main thing we want right now is for all these guys to get used to having their legs under them,” Riggan said. “If we are going to be right around 30 (players on varsity), then we are going to have some kids playing a lot. So they better be in shape. “The other thing that we are doing is having everybody working out in two positions — one offensive and one defensive — because a lot of the guys are going to be asked to play more than one spot on the field and sometimes on both sides of the ball.”
More than anything, Riggan feels the first day of practice is a great chance for the guys to get out on the field when it counts and set the tone for what is to follow.
“This is the first day we have had absolutely everybody here, including the jayvee and varsity guys, along with all our coaches, managers and trainer,” said Riggan. “So it is fun to get to see everybody together so you can see what you are going to have, versus having people pieced together here and there.
“In a way it is like the start of chapter one in a book, with 17 chapters to go. “
The Vikings will have their first “full-tilt” practice, as Riggan described it, Saturday at 8 a.m. in an effort to beat the heat.
Spectators are invited to come out and watch from the top of the hill overlooking the two Viking practice fields as the sounds of pads popping and helmets clashing promise to fill the Cameron air.
Contact F.W. Manning II at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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