Schuckman: Heat, humidity and return to normal highlight opening of prep practices

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Quincy High School football coach Rick Little, center, talks to his players during a water break during Monday's practice at Flinn Stadium. Matt Schuckman

QUINCY — High temperatures and humidity which meteorologists turn into the better-take-note-of-these heat indexes greeted high school athletes for the official start of the fall sports season.

Don’t think for a moment that turned into an excuse to take a play off or slug through a drill.

Quincy Notre Dame football coach Jack Cornell drove that notion home midway through the Raiders’ first on-field effort early Monday evening.

During a drill designed to work on running between the tackles, the Raiders were slow to get to the line of scrimmage. So Cornell, the fourth-year head coach with the burly beard and booming voice, called them back to the huddle and reminded his linemen of the sweltering days ahead.

“Do you think there will be air conditioning on August 27?” Cornell bellowed.

The answer to that is no. No matter what conditions arise, the Raiders will open the season August 27 at Flinn Stadium against Quincy High School in one of the most anticipated lid-lifters in quite some time.

Neither team wasted time getting to work on game planning for the crosstown showdown, mixing a myriad of offensive and defensive reps in with the conditioning drills. The pace of practice and the humidity led to a handful of players searching for a trash can or a clandestine place to get rid of their breakfast or lunch.

Still, the intensity set the right tone.

The Blue Devils showed they will continue to evolve offensively, adapting the tried-and-true Wing-T offense to a more diversified aerial attack. Arm strength of the quarterbacks and receivers capable of acrobatic catches were both on display.

Off-the-mark passes and drops were part of the equation, too.

That’s understandable on Day 1. Coaches won’t be as forgiving of those mistakes on Day 7 or Day 14 or gameday in less than three weeks

Yet, the beauty of what took place Monday is the fact order has been restored. For the most part, at least.

Whether it was the QHS and QND football teams competing at opposite ends of the day or the two-hour stint the QHS boys soccer team spent at Flinn Stadium or the volleyball teams surviving in sweltering gyms in Adams, Pike and Brown counties, they practiced on time and on schedule.

COVID-19 didn’t kick them to the spring this time, although there remain coronavirus concerns. They enter this season with belief they will play a full schedule, have the possibility of making the playoffs and get to chase their championship dreams.

Monday, everyone lined up at the same starting point.

It’s where they yearned to be, which is why it wasn’t too hot to handle.

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