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Football: Tigers open 2010 campaign

by Joey Crandall

The Douglas High football team kicked off its 2010 campaign Thursday just like every other team in the state.

While the second Thursday in August has become somewhat of a tradition in the area, signifying the official start of the fall sports season, that hasn’t stopped Douglas coach Mike Rippee from changing up the routine.

For the first time in Rippee’s now-26-year tenure at the high school, the Tigers will practice primarily in the evening.

“We’ve been going during the day for as long as I can remember and they haven’t handed me a (regional championship) trophy yet,” Rippee said with a laugh. “So we’re going to shake things up a bit.

“We’ve done night practices in the past and it seems like you just get more out of the kids. It’s not as hot, it’s the same conditions you’ll be playing in for most of the season (Manogue is the only Northern 4A team that plays its home games on Saturdays) and the kids really seem to respond to it.”

That’s not all.

Douglas won’t be doing double-day practices either.

“We’re switching to singles,” Rippee said. “We’ll bring them in for lifting around 4 p.m., have team meetings at 6 and then get into practice.

“Our first game is a week later (Sept. 3 vs. Reed) than almost everyone else, so we’re not really losing any practices in the grand scheme of things by going to singles.”

That’s not to say Rippee has decided to make things easier for the team.

“We’ve been conditioning all summer,” he said. “They’ve been putting in a ton of work and they are already in shape coming in. You don’t have to beat them up like the old traditional two-a-day schedule. They’ve been working since last spring to be ready, so there’s no reason why we can’t just get right to work now.

“It’s more about maintaining strength at this point, because they’ve already been building it for a while. We’re shifting our focus to get more quality out of the practices than focusing on quantity.”

The Tigers have 45 kids on the roster heading into practice and while the junior varsity group has been low this summer, Rippee said the freshman team has been seeing up to 60 kids during summer workouts.

At varsity level, Douglas has a handful of returning starters, including a number of key skill position players and some all-region honorees on the defensive side of the ball. They’ll be infused with a group of upcoming juniors that had a successful season at the junior varsity level last year (7-2). The program will also welcome its first sophomore heading into the year, Conner Peterson, since Brent Koontz and Ryan Pruitt started the year with the squad in 2004.

“There are a lot of kids that can play,” Rippee said. “We’ve got some real competition going on at certain positions.

“They work hard, too. I couldn’t be happier with last year’s group. They worked real hard, but things didn’t work out the way we wanted them to. It’s the same type of group this year. They work hard, they are real coachable.

“They should be very competitive. Hopefully things work out for them.”

Heading into camp, Rippee said he sees McQueen as the overall favorite, although he added the league looks as wide-open as it can be.

“The competition is great,” he said. “It makes it fun. There are any number of teams that can step up and do something special. Every week will be a battle.”