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Opening day of high school football features high-octane, high-energy …


BAY CITY, MI – Andre
Houston’s new tattoo shows he’s all in.

And then some.

The Bay City Central senior wants his high school football teammates to know he’s
willing to give what it takes – “110 percent,” according to the body art on his
right hand – to make the 2013 season a success. And it all started Monday, Aug. 12, with
Practice 1 on Day 1, as high school football teams across the state hit the
field for opening day.

“This separates a lot of people and shows who really wants
to play,” said Houston as he and the Wolves prepared for nearly two weeks of
two-a-days. “We survived the summer, now we see who wants to do this for the
next nine days.

“But this is it. This is what we’ve all been waiting for.”

tackle.JPGBay City Central coach Morley Fraser runs his defensive backs through a form tackling drill during opening day.

High school football is a fall phenomenon for 623 schools and
more than 41,000 athletes across the state, and kickoff for the Week 1 games is
just 17 days away. But before the clashing of the pads, before the playing of
the bands and before the Friday night lights, there is plenty of work to do –
and gridiron gangs got down to business throughout Michigan on Monday.

“The first practice is always high energy, high octane,”
said Bangor John Glenn coach Jeremy Werner at the outset of his fourth season
at the helm of the Bobcats. “The kids are all excited for the start of

“It’s pretty similar
to game day. Everybody is excited, there’s a level of anticipation. Some are
nervous and some are ready to rock ‘n’ roll.”

After a summer of weight training and individual workouts,
most teams came together in full force for the first time Monday. With a
collection of seniors and juniors, and a mix of returning varsity players and
junior varsity graduates, coaches and players alike get their first glimpse of
what they’ve got for the season ahead.

“You usually don’t know for certain how things look until
that first scrimmage,” Werner said. “That’s when you really find out if you
have a lot of work to do or if you’re on the right track.”

Central coaches put their players through a variety of
drills within the opening hour of Day 1, ranging from calisthenics to form
tackling and angle-of-pursuit instruction. With music playing and coaches only
raising their voices to moderate levels, players were eased into practice tempo.

But the intensity level could change once players are issued
pads later in the week.

“Everybody is ready to go mentally,” said Houston, who
rushed for 839 yards and nine touchdowns a year ago. “But the day we get pads,
things get really exciting.”

Bay County teams spring into action on Thursday, Aug. 29,
when Central hosts Midland Dow, Bay City Western plays at Walled Lake Western,
John Glenn travels to North Farmington, Bay City All Saints goes to Sandusky
and Pinconning hosts Essexville Garber.

The project of getting game-ready is now underway, as
football season got rolling on opening day.

“Usually everything goes well on the first day, everybody is
sharp and crisp,” Werner said. “The challenge is matching the energy of the first
day for the rest of the week – and the rest of the season.”

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