Thursday, August 30, 2012

"The Turnaround": Game Day for Lubbock

by Jason Strunk
Lubbock HS Head Football Coach

Blog Two-A-Days

Jason Strunk in action on the sideline
Reprinted courtesy of the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal
After nine months of prep work for 2012, the season was finally upon us. There is something special about the first day of practice. After spending months hammering the weights and being trapped inside, day one allows us to break free from the chains, so to speak. Cabin fever is over!

We kicked of the season with our Midnight Madness practice on Monday, August 6th at 12:01 a.m. We had a packed house for practice. The band, cheerleaders and pom-squad were all there. TV crews and print reporters were on-hand. It was a game-like atmosphere. The kids love this. We started it last year and now the players look forward to it every year.

Day one practice went well. We closed up the office around 3 a.m. Players reported back later in the afternoon at 4 p.m. for meeting and weight training. Coaches arrived back to Chapman Fieldhouse at 1 p.m. No signs of fatigue. We looked fresh.

Our first week of practice featured a schedule of morning lifting, meetings and nutrition. The players reported back at 5 P.M. for our evening practice, which also included a walk-through. The first four days of practice here have to be in just helmets. They call it the four-day acclamation period. Once we make it through that we can strap it up or real! However, we rolled right into the weekend practice the way we did all week. I figured Monday would be the best time to get after for real.

Monday, August 13th was our true first two-a-day practice. In Texas, just like it was at Purdue, two-a-days have to be staggered. So if Monday was a double practice, Tuesday could only be a single practice. That is how we had our schedule set up. I actually like it. I think the days of lining up and smashing heads for ten practices a week will never be seen again.

Aside from the typical bumps and bruises, we had a couple of guys with concussion symptoms to start the week off with. We had our first scrimmage looming on Friday, August 17th against Big Spring. I don't mind keeping guys out of the scrimmage. No sense in rushing back into things. So heading into Big Spring we knew we were going to hold out at least six guys, all starters. This was a good way to get some younger guys experience.

Big Spring Scrimmage

We started this controlled scrimmage on defense. We were flying to the football. Great way to start!

Big Spring ran 15 plays at us and we did not yield any points. You could see the weight training and stamina we have been working on shine through.

Really pleased with that first set!

We started slow on offense. With a controlled scrimmage it is hard to get your tempo rolling, especially when you are spread, no-huddle like we are. Our timing was off but we were able to move ball a little bit. We ran 35 plays in the scrimmage and netted about 170 total yards. Not too bad, but we know as we move along we will be able to churn out more yardage.

Overall, I think we did alright. Not a bad first outing. I really enjoyed Big Spring coming here. Great coaching staff and a first class program. Looking forward to going there next year.

The key, especially when rebuilding a program, is the mindset of the kids following the scrimmage. I think they expected more out of themselves. We were positive and upbeat (like always) with them after the scrimmage. We saw what we needed as a staff. We were fine. However, if you do not convey that to your kids how do they know what you are thinking? Communication needs to be constant in the early stages. Always telling them what you saw. Once they heard us say we were fine, they felt good about themselves. Our Saturday morning film session is where we will start correcting everything we didn't like.

Week Two was upon us on Monday, August 20th. We kept rolling with our two-a-day schedule. This week was different though. When I set up our scrimmages my intent was to get a solid, playoff contender from the year before. Monahans High contacted me in February and I said, yeah, let's get after it! Monahans made a deep playoff run in 2011. I think they may have advanced to the State Semifinals. That didn't matter to me. I knew they were good and what we needed to see.

We had a good week of practice. Although we were still sitting out key starters. I was concerned because I wanted to come out of Monahans healthy, but confident. What a fine line I decided to walk!

Monahans Scrimmage

I will say that we came away from the Monahans scrimmage feeling much better about where we are at than we did against Big Spring. Really pleased. We did some great things. We played two 15-minute running quarters. Great format, by the way.

Monahans is big and strong. They run the Wing-T. They can smash you! We held our ground pretty good. They scored twice on our 1's. We punched one in on their 1's. We learned a lot about what we can do and the key was we did it against a perennial playoff team.

We came out healthy and confident. We were able to pull it off.

Monahans is very good football team. Their head coach, Mickey Owens, is one of the nicest coaches I have ever met. Runs a quality program and does it the right way. I became a Monahans fan this night.

With all that said, it is time to start 2012. We travel to Canyon to kickoff the season tonight at 7 P.M. Texas time.

Let the fun begin....

Jeff Fisher's Editor Note: Come back later tonight to see if Coach Strunk and his Westerners could snap their 22-game losing streak.  It could be the program's first step toward the school's first winning season since 1975.  Follow Coach Strunk on Twitter at @WestTXCoach.

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