Pre-season football workouts underway

Mike ErwinJournal-Capital
Pre-season football workouts underway

Pre-season conditioning workouts for Pawhuska High School and junior high football players started on Monday and are slated to continue every weekday evening until football workouts officially begin August 10.

The nightly drills will be serving as a warm up for the Huskies’ first gridiron campaign under head coach Joe Sindelar.

Sindelar — who is beginning his third year as the PHS principal — cannot conceal his excitement about being back on the field coaching football. The new head coach of the Huskies spent more than 25 years on the sidelines before taking the Pawhuska administrative position. His last game was at Woodland in the 2011 Class A state championship, where a one-point loss snapped the Osage County school’s 27-game win streak. One year earlier, he’d taken the Cougars to the 2010 football crown. Prior to his arrival in Fairfax, Sindelar also had led Morrison’s Wildcats to state titles in 1993, 1994 and 2003.

Following a team meeting, Monday’s first workout session got underway a little after 6 p.m. on the field at Ormand Beach Memorial Stadium. Shoulder pads had initially been scheduled to be checked out at the conclusion of the practice, but were pushed back. Sindelar said the intense, 30-minute drill should provide the players with the necessary pre-season conditioning without causing any unnecessary overheating or fatigue.

“For the one’s that have been coming to our morning sessions all summer long, this was a short workout, but it should let the others sort of ease their way into shape,” the PHS head coach said.

Around 40 local athletes participated in Monday’s initial session — and, at least a dozen of them were not even supposed to be there. Members of the Lady Huskies’ softball and cross country teams came out to join the footballers as they were put through 30 minutes of windsprints and agility drills on the sultry summer evening.

“They’ve worked out together all summer at ‘the barn’ and figured there was no reason this should be any different,” said one softball parent, Angela Sellers, who had two daughters taking part in the conditioning session.

The ‘barn’ she referred to is the dressing room/workout facility that was opened last spring southeast of the stadium between PHS’s field house and its softball and baseball diamonds.

“It was amazing to see the progress these kids were making week to week,” Sindelar said of the voluntary summer conditioning program.

Commenting on the co-educational nature of the workouts, the PHS coach/principal said: “I’m not too sure these girls aren’t in even better shape than most of our guys. He said the girls are expected to keep going through the first week of the evening workouts. The Huskie football players will continue holding the 6 p.m. sessions until state high school football practices officially open in two weeks. Full-pad workouts are set to begin, statewide, on Friday, Aug. 14.

In addition to the physical conditioning, Sindelar said the sessions will allow coaches to help players become more acquainted with a revamped system being installed in the local football program. He said Huskie football fans can expect to see an up-tempo attack that combines elements of spread, zone, “air raid” and other offensive schemes. Due to the limited time left for preparation, Sindelar said the coaching staff (which also includes Mark Frye and volunteer assistant Joe Tillman) are working on “simplifying” some of the new playbook.

“A lot of it is just getting them (the players) used to certain concepts and the verbiage,” the Pawhuska coach added. “Once they get the basic language down, the sky is the limit.”

Pawhuska kicks off its regular high school schedule on Sept. 4, with a home game against the Verdigris Cardinals. Local seventh-, eighth- and ninth-grade/JV squads open on the road at Dewey on Sept. 8.