Twenty-two down, four to go.
It has been 22 days since most area football teams began practice, and now just four days stand between them and the first meaningful football they’ve played in nearly 10 months. This close to kickoff, practices are a little different.
“In my mind, the intensity gets higher. I definitely go harder than I have been before,” Lancaster running back Jerry King said. “Knowing that you are playing an actual game on Friday and it means something makes you want to go way harder than you have been.”
Lancaster faces Logan in its season-opener at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Fulton Field. In these final days before facing the Chieftains, the Gales are getting more serious about their opponent.
“We are starting to really learn their formations and be compatible with what they do and what they run,” quarterback Alex Butsco said. “We are starting to have more of an understanding and a more in-depth practice.”
Unlike Lancaster, Fisher Catholic has been working on the details of their Week 1 opponent — Tuscarawas Central Catholic — for more than a week; the Irish did not have a scrimmage this past week.
“There is a little more excitement now. All this work that you’ve been putting in, you finally have the culmination of camp and you finally have something to look forward to,” Fisher Catholic coach Tony Hurps said. “Guys are excited about this game after last year.”
The Irish technically won their game against Tuscarawas Central Catholic 2-0 in 2012 after the Saints forfeited because of ineligible players. On the field, the Irish lost 51-29.
Both the Irish and Gales posted 3-7 records in 2012. The quicker they can get on the field for 2013, the faster they can erase that disappointment.
Lancaster coach Rob Carpenter said the most important thing about the week leading up to the first game is getting kids psychologically ready.
“Sometimes it gets mundane out here on the practice field. It’s not like a Friday night attitude and the crowd noise isn’t there, but players have to put themselves in that type of mindset so we can get that kind of feel and get the realistic look,” he said. “That’s the biggest challenge this week. No matter who we are playing … just getting a realistic look out here — that is really going to prepare these guys.”
Although the emphasis this week is on preparing for the first game, there is something refreshing about looking at the endless outcomes the season can bring.
“Every team thinks they are going to win the state championship, and that’s good,” Hurps said. “Our kids are playing with confidence and they are going to come out like that and really build on it.
“Pack it in and here we go.”