The Siloam Springs football team celebrated the end of the summer and the beginning of fall practice all in the same day Monday evening at Panther Stadium.
The Panthers held their first fall practice of the season, which included an outside practice portion and weight lifting session, and the team wrapped up the day with pizza and swimming at the Family Aquatic Center as a reward for their hard work during the summer conditioning program.
"It's one of the things that I as a coach look at personal growth for me," said Siloam Springs coach Brandon Craig. "Because I'm not a real big kumbaya-type coach. This is something we need to develop, some team chemistry and some team bonding time. We had kids that worked extremely hard this summer."
Craig said a group of Panthers had perfect attendance during summer workouts while others were very close to achieving that.
"We had 11 kids that didn't miss one day of workouts this summer, which is outstanding for us," he said. "We had several other kids that were above 90 percent. We're learning, and in that learning process I've also learned that we need to have some time just to be outside of football and enjoy each other's company outside of football."
On the field Monday, the Panthers came out juiced for the start of practice, but it was filled with typical first-day practice mistakes, according to Craig and his players.
"I loved our energy," Craig said. "It was great coming out. Everybody had great energy. We were sloppy. I think from a standpoint of everybody getting to where they're supposed to be and understanding what they're supposed to do today, we were sloppy. It's one of those things, it was a typical day one practice.
"We had kids coming in that we hadn't seen all summer. We had kids bringing paper work in late. You're going through the daily grind of first day practice. Then you get to the field and everybody's trying to get back into that routine. It takes a couple of days to get the feeling back of how things are supposed to flow. So our flow wasn't good, but our energy was really good today."
Senior linemen Mariano Dominguez and Marco Salcedo agreed.
"I like how we started off," Dominguez said. "I felt like everybody was excited until the heat came in and actual practice started. It's just about getting people in shape and making sure people know what they're doing and getting everybody on the same page."
Said Salcedo: "It's going to be a long journey. The beginning of practice was pretty good, intensity was high. Everything was good. Then kind of mid practice we started slowing down, so it's one of those things where we have to keep the intensity the whole practice. We always talk about starting fast and finishing strong."
Both seniors expressed the need to be role models for the younger players.
"We're excited and all the seniors are excited because we know this is the beginning of the end for us," Dominguez said. "It's all about trying to get the younger kids to step up into their roles and execute to make this team work."
"We just have to set the tone," Salcedo added. "We have to show the underclassmen how it's done. We have to keep the intensity going and just set the tone for them, be the leaders of the team."
The Panthers spent a lot of time on special teams and that will continue to be a point of emphasis this week, Craig said.
He said because the team spent so much time on 7 on 7 work, they'll get back to working on their running game and play action "which we really hang our hat on."
Defensively, Craig said the Panthers will focus on effort and alignment all week because the Panthers are limited on what they can do because of not being able to wear full pads until next week.
"It's a real non-physical week from that standpoint," he said.
For the ones that didn't make the majority of workouts, getting in shape will also be a priority.
"There's kids that weren't here all summer that need to get their legs under them," Craig said. "They're going to be tired and weary. The kids that were here they're going to be a little bit ahead. ... That's something we take pride in. I want people to play us and say they're physical and tough and they have a lot of discipline."
The Panthers practiced in helmets and shorts on Monday and Tuesday. They'll move to a half shell workout on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday before donning full pads on Monday.
"Full pads nowadays is not often used," Craig said. "It's more of a mindset practice to get our mind right to where when we put everything on we're going out to be a warrior and we're going to go out with a different mentality."
Sports on 08/07/2019
Print Headline: End is the beginning for SSHS