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Getting used to the heat

Since the beginning of this month, the Opp High School football team moved its summer workout time to the afternoons to get “used to the heat.”

In June, the Bobcats were meeting three times per week at 7:30 a.m., participating in weight lifting and conditioning.

Opp coach Jack Whigham said the turnout this summer on the team has been strong, numbers-wise.

“We’ve got 65 kids lifting to play football next year and the seniors have had the best summer of any group I’ve had since I’ve been here,” Whigham said. “We’ve had some good senior classes, but they’ve been present more than they have in the past. We’ve only had three seniors miss a workout at all. They’ve done a great job with that.”

One thing Whigham said has been a problem with the ninth and 10th graders are the “hurts” that can happen.

“They’ve been here and they’ve been present, but we’ve had a lot of nagging hurts — or what I call hurts,” he said. “I think sometimes we confuse hurts and injuries. It takes kids sometimes a little while to learn the difference between a hurt and an injury. But, they’re growing and they’ve been here and they’re getting tougher. They weren’t as tough at the start of the summer as I would have liked them to be, but they’ve made a lot of progress since then.”

Whigham said during June, the team practiced with blocking pads.

“We did some blocking drills with pads not attached to any equipment,” he said. “Now, we’re going to throw the ball some. The reason I’m going to the afternoon is because a lot of the baseball is done now and I’m going to the afternoon to get as closer to the actual time we start practicing (in August). I want us to get acclimated to that time of day a little bit better.”

The Bobcats started their workouts Mon., June 8, and will work out until Fri., July 31.

Whigham said the workouts are important because it gives the players an opportunity to get ready for the fall.

“There is no doubt that if you’re not in the weight room and not conditioning, you’re not going to be ready for the fall,” Whigham said. “It’s critical to the physical well-being of the kids, first of all. But, also they’re critical in building team unity and getting your team conditioned for what they’re going to face in the fall.

“Years ago, a lot of people didn’t lift in the summer,” he said. “Most of that has changed. If you’re going to compete, you’ve got to compete in the summer.”

Whigham said the main difference he has seen since June 8 is an increase in his players’ overall toughness.

“I saw some kids that weren’t as tough as I thought they needed to be at the start of the summer,” he said. “But, it seems to be that they are gaining some mental toughness as well as physical toughness. I haven’t seen a lot of strength gains, but I’ve seen some. It’s just been a month. One thing I’ve seen is that we’re building a little more togetherness. As a coach, that’s what I like to see.”