After a high-energy, two-hour workout in 80-plus-degree heat, Columbus North running back Mitchell Burton was looking no worse for wear on the first day Indiana high school teams were allowed to practice for the 2015 season.
Besides the Bull Dogs’ workout sessions this season, Burton had a plan of his own.
“I did hills at Mill Race Park,” Burton said. “Sometimes I would go with someone, and sometimes I would go alone.”
With Monday’s impressive tempo, it appeared that many of the Bull Dogs had a productive summer. After going 5-6 last season and 3-7 the previous year, expectations are higher for a North squad that has several college prospects on the roster.
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“I’m ready to play football,” said North defensive nose tackle Coleman Tennyson, who figures to be one of the most highly recruited players on the team. “I feel like we’ve had a great summer.”
Senior tight end/defensive end Drew Schoeberl, who already has received college offers, was excited despite the tough workout.
“It’s a different vibe for us,” Schoeberl said. “We’re expecting perfection from everyone, from the freshmen on up, in every facet. You might never reach perfection, but you will be successful.”
North coach Tim Bless knows that his team is far from perfect, but he added, “Yeah, we’re optimistic. We’ve got good kids back who are bigger, faster, stronger and this was our cleanest summer from an injury perspective.
“Yes, we had a good summer, and we do have a lot of returning starters. But we also only have 14 seniors.”
The underclassmen were holding their own during the drills.
“We were shooting for 30 plays in 15 minutes,” Bless said. “We ran two (15-minute segments), and we ran 59 plays, one short.
“For the first day, yes, I was happy. We set out to do some things different. We didn’t do a conditioning segment, which is not that unusual for the first day, but we conditioned through our high tempo. We did a lot of high-energy football drills.”
Bless’ energy was overflowing as well Monday.
“I felt it last week when I played a crummy round of golf,” he said. “Normally, I would be upset, but it wasn’t the least bit hard. It was time to put the clubs away.”
He was raring to go Sunday, the day before school started at North.
“Sunday seemed like the longest day of the year to me,” Bless said. “Usually, you want the day before school starts to be the longest day, but not for me.”
The players knew that the coaching staff’s excitement would lead to a tough first day.
“We were excited to get into our season routine and to get things going,” Burton said. “And it’s always exciting because we know the coaches will make the first day hard.”
Bless said he knows his players have to prepare for a difficult schedule.
“Welcome to a day in the life of 6A football,” he said. “Every game is a four-quarter grind. Our kids embrace that challenge.”
And Tennyson noted one particular reason that the coaches needed to be tough in practice.
“We still have a lot of things to improve on,” he said.