The Blaine football team held their first official practice of the season August 21, but players have been working all summer to improve their fitness in preparation for fall competition.
After spring sports ended, the team got together for three weeks of practices and scrimmages leading up to a football camp at Eastern Washington University. Then summer workouts began.
“It’s not necessarily mandatory, but it’s expected that players come into the school gym and work out 25 times over the course of the summer,” said head coach Jay Dodd.
The summer workout program was structured, with lists of exercises posted and sign-in sheets.
“The gym was open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday, and players came in on their own to do a 45-60 minute workout,” Dodd explained. “We had two big boards with a list of exercises, and players alternated upper-body and lower-body workouts, with core, footwork and speed-development exercises before each lifting session.”
The lifting exercises were focused on the lower body to build leg and lower back strength, with workouts like squats and power cleans. Other workouts on the school track were designed to build quickness and speed. Along with a repertoire of sprints and footwork exercises, athletes pulled sleds and flipped heavy tires. Border Tire, located across the truck route from the school, donated large semi-truck tires for the athletes to use.
“They would flip heavy tires for a certain distance, and that helps build explosive power for the whole body,” Dodd said.
Many of the football players stick to a workout regimen year-round, but Dodd said this summer’s program helped to ensure his team is in great shape for the coming season.
“We’re very excited for the season,” he said. “I don’t think many people will expect much from us because we graduated a lot of talented seniors, but I think our players are excited for the opportunity to prove themselves on Friday nights.”
Blaine graduated several key players last year, including offensive/defensive linemen James Fakkema and Palmer Sandel and running back Mario Gobbato. This year, coaches will be looking to athletes like safety Cole Mudor, lineman Mike Antczak, center Tanner Anthony and linebacker Jon Stewart to take on leadership roles.
“We’ll be looking to Cole to lead the defense, because he has a really good understanding of not only his position, but also those around him,” Dodd said. Similarly, Stewart, Anthony and Antczak have demonstrated good understanding of the game, and will be making line calls at their respective positions, Dodd said.
Due to WIAA regulations, the first three days of practice are non-contact, so players will be running drills in helmets but without pads. Wednesday’s practice was focused on special teams.
Paid and volunteer coaches this year include Dodd, Dave Fakkema, Ron Kowalke, Phil Hayes, Ben Hayes, Jason Little, Trevor Chau, Ryan Pike, Keith Warkentin, Travis Thayer and Sean Linville. A total of 85 players have signed up for the varsity, junior varsity and freshman teams.
Blaine’s first game is scheduled for Friday, September 6 at Ferndale. The first home game on the schedule is Thursday, September 12 versus Lord Tweedsmuir from Vancouver.