It's hard to imagine that the final days of July would be the start of football practice. Yet that is what the Taft High football team will be doing Monday afternoon when they open up fall practice and the road to the 2012 season.
"I think there's excitement with any year but with this being my first year its a little more exciting," said first year Wildcat head coach Jarrudd Prosser.
While fall practice officially starts Monday, Prosser and the rest of the Wildcats were preparing for the 2012 season at the end of the last school year with a trip up to Hume Lake. Prosser feels that trip lit a spark with the team.
"Hume Lake has been a catalyst to motivate this team," he said. "I think there's a buzz in the air."
Practice will be the end point of a three week break that Prosser, the coaches and the players took to prepare themselves for a season that could take them deep into November with the regular season, the playoffs and only one week off during that period of time.
"I think it's important to for the coaches and players to have a break," said Prosser. "If you don't give them a break they will get burned out."
Practice will not be the first time the Wildcats will be working on new plays. Along with Hume Lake, the team took part in a series of passing leagues at Centennial High School in Bakersfield and summer practice at the Taft High practice field.
"We were able to lay a foundation for our offensive and defensive schemes," said Prosser. "We've been very basic in what we have put in so far. Now it's time to get more in depth. Now we're going to work on the mental part of it."
Between the first day of practice and the Wildcats scrimmage on Friday, August 17, there will be a couple of keys that Prosser will be focusing on-fundamentals and tackling.
"Tackling is a big area that I want to focus on," he said.
With the team taking part in the passing league, the focus will shift a little bit in practice to another part of the offense.
"We're going to focus a lot of the time on the run." he said.
Another thing the team will be working on is spacing.
"We got to keep good spacing," he said.
With everything from Hume Lake to the passing league to working out, Prosser likes where the team stands right now.
"I feel like we're ahead of the game from where I thought we would be," he said.
Page 2 of 2 - The first game of the regular season will not take place until Friday, Aug. 24 when the Wildcats will take on Golden Valley at home but already Prosser is breaking down Golden Valley from last year's game. Prosser figures that midway through the second week of practice the team will be running scout teams.
When practice begins Monday afternoon, Prosser expects 40-50 players to come out on the varsity squad and 100-120 come out for the program at all three levels.
One week before the season officially begins, Taft will be taking on Porterville and possibly Liberty in a scrimmage at home. How the team does in the three weeks of practice leading up to that point will help determine how the team does in the scrimmage.
"It will be good to go against that type of competition," said Prosser.
Unlike previous years when Taft would hold two a days the first week of practice or until school starts, they will hold only one day of practice each day from 4-6:30 p.m. , over the course of the three weeks. They will also have a half hour work out as well. According to Prosser the team did two a days right after school and prefers having only one practice instead of two.
"I'd rather have one great practice than two mediocre practices," he said.
Another change this year is helmets and pads. The team will be in helmets and shoulder pads three days and then a week later in full gear.