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Prep football fall camp begins

Posted: August 5, 2013 10:50 p.m.
Updated: August 5, 2013 10:50 p.m.
Saugus center Austin Dulaney prepares to snap the ball during Saugus’ opening day of fall camp on Monday at Saugus High School. Saugus center Austin Dulaney prepares to snap the ball during Saugus’ opening day of fall camp on Monday at Saugus High School.
<p>Saugus center Austin Dulaney prepares to snap the ball during Saugus’ opening day of fall camp on Monday at Saugus High School.</p>

Some consider this the real start to football season.

For the first time in 2013, local high school football teams are strapping on pads and running full speed practices.

All across town high schools are opening up fall camp, which is essentially the final segment of the offseason.

Teams like the four-time defending Foothill League champion Valencia Vikings officially start practice today.

“There is an excitement to get back going and get the things rolling again,” said Valencia head coach Larry Muir. “I think the kids are ready to go. It’s a big group, a lot of returners. There’s an excitement to see where we can take this thing.”

Valencia will open camp a month to the day before it takes the field for its season opener on Sept. 6 against Palmdale.

The other five teams in the league play their openers on Aug. 30, and the preparation for that date starts this week for most.

“It’s fun because you get to find out if all the work that you’ve put in from January until now is paying dividends,” said Saugus head coach Jason Bornn, whose team held its first practice of the fall on Monday. “That, to me, is exciting. It’s exciting to see kids that we were counting on to be playmakers for us to be those playmakers.”

Saugus began camp in shorts and T-shirts, but Bornn said the team will be in full pads starting on Thursday.

Other teams, like Canyon and West Ranch, have already been practicing.

Those teams chose to use the CIF-required, three-week dead period earlier than the other teams.

“Every day we get better,” said Canyon head coach Rich Gutierrez, who guided his team to a second-place finish in Foothill last year. “When we take the dead period early, the conditioning’s better. We really don’t have a layoff.”

West Ranch first-year head coach Jan Miller is also putting heavy emphasis on conditioning, and he said he was pleased to see the players hit the ground running when camp opened.

“It’s a high energy, high intensity practice and we have fun with it,” Miller said. “The kids have fun with it, but they know I mean business now.”

Other teams beginning practice today are Hart, the third-place Foothill finisher in 2012, and Golden Valley, which is coming off an 0-10 campaign.

Though every coach and every team has a unique approach to running practices this time of year, there is a universal philosophy of doing everything possible to avoid injuries.

“Our No. 1 objective through camp leading up to our scrimmage is health,” Bornn said. “Just keeping everyone healthy. That’s far and away that No. 1 thing. We can’t afford to lose one person.”

On that subject, Muir’s theory is to ease into practice in the early part of August.

“They’re coming off a three-week break,” Muir said. “Coming off a three-week break, you’re just trying to get them back in the mode, getting back to work. You don’t want to do too much because you don’t want to hurt them. You don’t want any pulled hamstrings or pulled groins or that kind of stuff.”

For the most part though, fall camp is about putting together a final depth chart and making decisions on who plays where.

Not much is certain at this stage. But now is when teams truly start to take shape.

Signal Sports Editor Cary Osborne contributed to this report


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