Return to the gridiron: Area schools prepare for new season as practices begin

Return to the gridiron: Area schools prepare for new season as practices begin


Return to the gridiron: Area schools prepare for new season as practices begin


All across Manitowoc County, the sound of summer ending can be heard loud and clear, a sound which can send shivers down any athlete’s spine:

A coach’s whistle.

Football, at last, is returning. Coaches cooped up all offseason are migrating back to the field to bark orders to eager players anticipating the next drill beginning at the sound of a whistle on Tuesday’s first official day of practice.

The excitement can be seen, albeit apprehensively, in the players looking to make the varsity team in their first-ever practice. That same unbridled passion can also be seen in the coaches anxious to begin anew, knowing a winning touchdown can’t be scored without the fundamentals drilled home in the first practices of Fall.

“I love it,” said Roncalli football coach Ray Baranczyk. “I can’t wait for the season to begin, you look forward to Friday nights and being out here with these young men working hard.

“It’s almost like people who deer hunt anticipating opening day, I was up half the night just thinking about today.”

Baranczyk, entering his 38th season, says he’s glad to see everyone returning in shape ready to hit the ground running.

“I can tell the kids were working out in the offseason,” Baranczyk said. “Plus, I think my assistant coaches are in midseason form already seeing how drills are being run.”

On the other end of the spectrum is new Two Rivers coach Kevin Shillcox, who is entering his first season in charge and is anxious to begin.

“It’s exciting to get things going,” Shillcox said. “I’m looking forward to getting to the first game and seeing what happens.”

Before the first game, though, there’s no shortcuts being taken.

After finishing stretching, the players break into position groups and receive their instructions in various drills. Receivers and defensive backs work on tips, lineman on blocking and block shedding techniques and running backs how to hit the hole with power.

“It feels good to be back after all the hard work we put in in the summer,” said Two Rivers senior Scott Skornicka.

In practice, like a game, everyone has their own assignments in terms of where they’re supposed to be and, as was most often the case, they weren’t there fast enough for the coaches’ liking.

Despite the specialization, every member of the team is working for one common goal — to be ready when the ball is kicked off for real 16 days from now.

“(Has) to be the first play of the first game,” said Roncalli senior Alex Deets when asked what he’s most excited for. “Got to make a good impression to start the year off right.”


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