MOORE — The first day of fall football practice kicked-off Monday for many teams around the state. Some took to the field early in the morning before the sun came out while others waited until it cooled off and began in the evening.
That was not the case at Westmoore High. Coach Billy Langford was looking to set a tone for the 2013 season when he had his Jaguars march onto the field for their first official practice at 3:30 p.m. during the hottest part of the day.
"We are never going to use the heat and the humidity or anything else on game night as an excuse not to go perform well," Langford said. "Like I told them, it's just an opportunity for us to toughen ourselves up mentality and physically. So we're going to take advantage of it and look at it as a positive and not a negative."
For more than two hours, the Jaguars went through offensive, defense and special teams periods with water breaks throughout the practice. Yet, that didn’t keep some of the players from letting the heat get the better of them. They had to be cooled down with cold towels or sent inside.
"They battled through pretty well," Langford said. "We spent an hour in the weight room and out here conditioning before we ever started practice. That weight room is a sauna. They handled it real well. We had some guys I would expect to handle it a little better than they did. But overall, as a group, they handled it really well."
Since Westmoore emphasizes a strong offseason workout program, the veteran players were ready for the challenge the elevated temperatures provided.
"The heat was really a big factor," senior Ty Watkins said. "I don't want to say we are used to it, but it's not anything new for us. We're out here working our tails off every day. It will help us in the long run."
Westmoore is coming off a 6-5 season in 2012. It included being eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by Tulsa Union.
The sting of going through the subpar season and the bitter lost to the Redskins is what drives the Jags to endure the hardships of training camp.
"We strongly believe we are better than a 6-5 team," Lexus Lee said. "And we want to prove that this coming up year. It will take hard work and effort. It started at the beginning of the summer. Push each other every day."
The Jags will continue to practice at the same time every day except Thursday. With school starting on Friday, their routine will not have to change much.
"Football is not always fun," Langford said. "They understand that. As coaches it's hard to always have fun. You try to as much as you can, but it becomes a grind. So they need to know early on that no matter what we're going to come out and grind it out. Do the best we possibly can and grind away. That's just the kind of mentality that we have."