“Live it. Breathe it. Be it.”
So say the workout shirts issued to every Clovis Wildcats football player Monday, the first day of high school practice across the state.
Clovis, and other Class 5A squads, went through padless practices for the first day of August, all hoping they’d find a combination of hard work and luck that they’ll still be practicing on the first week of December, with a state championship on the line that Saturday.
But, all in due time, Clovis coaches said. Assistant Darren Kelley, who is now in his 20th season on the Clovis staff, said the first week is basically a period for feeling out things.
The first two days, Kelley said, the players are without pads and getting used to the daily routine. When they put on pads Wednesday, they’ll take a few days to acclimate to the pads again.
“This week’s all about getting back in shape,” Kelley said, “but most of them have been doing a good job of staying in shape over the summer. The guys who didn’t are having a harder time.”
Senior tackle Michael Mileg is somewhere in that fray, generally satisfied with Monday but feeling he should be better.
“I thought it was pretty good,” said the 6-foot-1, 260-pound Mileg. “ I enjoyed playing left tackle. I felt like I need to condition more. I’ll just do whatever to help my team win.”
Mileg said last year’s 5-7 campaign was frustrating, because he got the impression some players didn’t care as much as they should have when things went wrong.
Players got reminders here and there that they have some things to prove, especially considering they are not the defending District 4-5A champs.
The Monday evening practice ended with Eric Roanhaus, entering his 35th year as Wildcat head coach, telling the players it wasn’t bad for a first day, and to be diligent in improving because, “you overcome your problems, or your problems overcome you.”
The Wildcats have their annual scrimmage with Las Cruces on Aug. 19 at the Wool Bowl in Roswell, then begin the regular season on Aug. 26 at Alamogordo.