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Trojans in training

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WORTHINGTON -- The first day wasn't even over yet, but the Worthington Trojan football team already had a new outlook on the fresh season ahead.

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But for head coach Dennis Hale, it was just like any other first day of fall practice.

"I don't like the first day," Hale said. "The young guys don't know where they're going, so you spend a lot of time just pointing different directions."

The Trojans kicked off the 2007 season with their first two-a-day practice Monday. There was no hitting the first day, but plenty of learning and conditioning.

"We're pretty easy on them today," Hale said. "The first week is a lot of learning because there isn't any hitting involved."

Hale said that the first week isn't necessarily the time when players separate themselves.

"The first week, basically everybody looks good because they're in shorts for three days and pads for a couple days where there isn't much hitting other than the sled," Hale said. "The first week is usually pretty good."

However, by the time the second week rolls around, the players will start to get physical. By that point, Hale said he'll have a better handle on his team.

"It's the second week when you really find things out, once you start hitting," Hale said.

One tough part of practice for the Trojans is the heat. Monday was a warm and muggy day, and Hale said he will be wary of the weather.

"This is Minnesota this time of the year. It's kind of typical, I guess that we usually battle the heat," Hale said. "On the radio they give you the livestock warning, which is probably a good indication that you better be careful."

In the first two hours of the season, the Trojans were already starting to learn offensive formations and running a few plays.

"We're starting to put in the offense and that type of thing," Hale said. "It's a slow process for the younger kids, but the older kids remember from years past, so it goes a lot quicker. We work with all of them, but when we're with the younger kids, we're usually way behind where we are with the older kids, but that's normal."

Ending the first practice of two on Monday with wind sprints, Hale said that overall he was pleased with the conditioning of his players entering camp.

"Every year, there's always a few that find out the hard way," Hale said of players being out of shape. "The older kids usually are in pretty good shape, but the younger kids in the black jersey's have to find out they're not in very good shape."

The team was split into two groups, the black jerseys and the red jerseys. The freshmen donned black uniforms, while the upperclassmen sported red.

For the 31st year, Hale will lead the Trojans. The rest of the coaching staff will be the same as in years past.

"We have probably the oldest coaching staff in the country," Hale joked. "We don't have anybody new. Most of them we have to pick up at the nursing home in the morning before we get here."

However, not everything is the same for the Trojans. Hale said that the team may look to pass more, which in turn, creates new challenges for the entire team.

"We're doing some changes offensively, I think we'll put the ball in the air more, so some of the things we're doing are new to everybody," Hale said.

Hale hopes that his team survives the first week with no injuries. But he said he will still push his team's conditioning.

"The main thing the first week is to get through it, be in better shape and not have ten guys on the sideline by Wednesday with pulled muscles, so that's probably our main concern," Hale said.

Hale admits one of the toughest parts of the first week is to wait for all players to get on the same level.

"Just the fact that the kids each year are behind, you're kind of anxious for them to catch up, and that maybe is the hardest thing to deal with," Hale said.

Another challenge for the Trojans is to find the right place for each player.

"We need to find people to get in their right positions," Hale said. "A lot of times, the first day we've got guys lining up at wide receiver that shouldn't be there. We got guys at running back that shouldn't be there. We need to, as coaches, be a little bit subtle about it, but we need to get people in spots to give them a better chance to play."

Even with the heat and the endless conditioning and repetitions, Hale said the start of fall practice is always a fun time, especially for the seniors.

"For the seniors, this is their shot," Hale said. "It's always interesting to see how the seniors will react. New guys become the leaders."

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