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High school football teams face heat as practice begins

As Las Vegas football coach Erick Capetillo looked around the school’s weight room this summer, he saw the strongest team he’s had in his tenure there.

Part of that is the emphasis Capetillo and his coaching staff put on the Wildcats making use of the weight room, but it’s also been helped by a return to normalcy with COVID restrictions having been lifted.

“I think it was good for us to see where we were after a full-year program,” Capetillo said. “With COVID two years ago, there were no football-related activities. We came back last year in May, and from last May to this May, having a full year, we see a huge difference.”

Many programs around the valley have used the summer for strength and conditioning, which has helped their players get acclimated to the 100-plus degree heat they often face early in the season.

Practice begins Monday. with the first two days scheduled specifically for heat acclimation. Teams will be allowed to have their players in shorts, T-shirts and helmets and run non-contact drills.

“We’ve been going four days a week throughout the summer,” Arbor View coach Matt Gerber said. “One reason we do that is (heat) acclimation. We make sure they’re used to it.”

Teams will continue non-contact drills Wednesday through Friday, but they will be allowed to have the players in helmets — helmets and shoulder pads. During these three days, teams may have two practices, instead of the one permitted in the first two days.

It’s not until the sixth day that teams are permitted to have full-contact practices.

When Clark County School District resumed in-person schooling during the spring of 2021 after more than a year of distance learning, it brought back a shortened season for the spring sports of baseball, softball, track and field, swimming and diving, boys volleyball and boys golf.

It also allowed football teams to have 20 spring practices and an intrasquad scrimmage. The decision was overwhelmingly popular among football coaches, and teams were permitted to have spring practice again during the 2021-22 school year.

That shortened the offseason and helped players be in better condition going into the heat of summer strength and conditioning workouts and fall practices.

“The kids were doing what they could (during COVID) on their own to keep going,” Gerber said. “But they were working out in parks or wherever they could find a spot, and that’s different from being there every day on campus and in the locker room.”

Spring Valley coach Marcus Teal said he makes sure none of his players is overexposed to the heat, especially during summer workouts.

The younger players go out and practice for about 40 minutes while the older players are in the weight room and then they rotate.

Need a drink of water? Go get one.

“There’s water everywhere. You don’t have to ask,” Teal said. “We also go from 8-11 (a.m.) before the real heat gets you.

”We’ve had the full summer to get conditioning in, and we’re going to be better off as a team and be better conditioned this season.”

Contact Jason Orts at jorts@reviewjournal.com. Follow @SportsWithOrts on Twitter.

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