The nature of high school football in Louisiana is such that as soon as one year ends, the anticipation for the next season begins.
Despite the seemingly endless countdown, the start of the new season still seems to catch people by surprise – even the coaches.
In the case of Dwain Jenkins, Lutcher’s picture day on Monday – a day before classes began – slipped the mind of the Bulldogs’ coach.
“The season is backed up but we have started school even earlier. Our first day for our coaches for professional development was July 29. It’s like we are moving fast-forward with school starting even earlier but the football season is starting later, so there is some adjustment there as far as the practice schedule and how you get through the fall camp,” Jenkins said Monday afternoon.
Generally, Week 1 of the regular season in high school football starts late July or the first day or two in September. This year, the regular-season openers are September 6.
“The nature of the beast now is that we have players that play multiple sports and we don’t have the athletic P.E.s like some schools have where they practice during the day,” Jenkins explained. “We have strictly a weightlifting class that goes on for all sports all throughout the year.
“A lot of our kids, as soon as the season ends, they just start lifting weights and kind of go all the way through and then you get to the summer, which used to be such a huge time, strength and development year round are in place, that becomes more of a plus and the summer is a little bit more about maybe getting some of those young guys working and getting the freshmen up on how to lift weights so that when you get to the school year, they are ready to move forward.”
Offseason conditioning and summer activities such as 7 on 7 leagues help players to get ready for the next season.
“We prepared really good as a team. As an individual, I feel I’ve come a long way, getting better in the weight room working every single day and getting stronger mentally and physically,” said senior defensive back and receiver Tre Stewart.
“We were in the weight room a lot. We did a lot of conditioning and sprints, jogs and stuff like that. We had a 7 on 7 tournament at St. Charles that got us better, mostly in the secondary and the skilled position players,” senior defensive back Rashaud Long said.
Stewart and Long are part of a group of Bulldogs players who were thrown into the fire as sophomore starters, particularly on the back end of the Lutcher defense. They are now veteran seniors.
“It has paid off,” said Stewart. “We actually play better together. We understand one another more. We trust each other a lot and we feel we will play way, way, way better.”
Because of regular season starting later than usual, Lutcher, like all the other teams in the state, have an additional week to wait before being able to put on shells and then full gear.
“We will continue to go through our camp-style process of just helmets and just doing some installation stuff,” said Jenkins. “We have one more week of that. I guess the luxury of starting school so early is you are able to get the Picture Day out of the way before it cuts into any practice.
“This is the first year since I have been head coach where we are not taking pictures on the first day of school. Last year, the first day of school was a Thursday and it was the first day we could go out in full pads and we still took pictures on that day. The anticipation of the first day of school normally doesn’t lead to very exciting practice that day.”