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High school football: Worthington opens practice for 2014 season

Worthington High head football coach Brad Grimmius leads his team through speed lines at the beginning of practice Monday in Worthington. The Trojans started fall practice Monday and will kick off the regular season on Aug. 22. (ZACH HACKER/DAILY GLOBE)

WORTHINGTON — Fall is officially here.

Sort of.

Though it didn’t feel like autumn on Monday afternoon, the sight of players in helmets running drills on the practice football field at Worthington High School was a sure sign that fall is right around the corner.

The Trojan football team was the first area squad to officially begin fall practice Monday afternoon. The opening of this year’s training camp was a week earlier than usual due to the fact Worthington has a “Zero Week” game in 2014. Instead of kicking off on Aug. 29 like most teams in the state, the Trojans will open the season one week earlier on Aug. 22 at Redwood Valley. The schedule will even out when they get a bye week at the end of the season, giving them 11 days to rest up between their last regular season game on Oct. 10 and the beginning of the section tournament on Oct. 21.

“That will be really nice,” said Trojans head coach Brad Grimmius. “Not only do we get 10 days off, but by then you usually have it narrowed down to about two teams that you might play in the first round. Not playing that last week of the season will give us a chance to see them play.”

The early start does present its problems, however. When camp opened on Monday, Grimmius was missing a few players because of family vacations and the Nobles County Fair. Still, he said the players who are missing the first few days were able to attend mini-camp last week.

On that note, the Trojans are diving head first into the season. The first few days of practice are about much more than just proper blocking and tackling techniques.

“We’ve got 12 formations, four motions, nine running plays, three passing plays and two screens that we’re putting in just these first four days,” Grimmius said. “And the guys know they have to learn it because we don’t move forward until they’ve got it down.”

Although the Trojans are getting to work on schematics right away, that doesn’t mean the basic tenants of early season practice are falling by the wayside. There will be fundamental work and there will be conditioning.

That last fact could be seen right away at Monday’s opening practice. After stretching and speed lines, the first order of business was running sprints.

“The biggest thing is that we get our conditioning back,” Grimmius said. “We also want to make sure the guys have retained what we put in during camp. We want to be really good fundamentally.”

In terms of the team itself, Grimmius said there are still a few question marks that need to be fleshed out prior to the 2014 season, when the Trojans officially become a part of the Big South Conference, a merger between the old Southwest and South Central conferences. Though a good core of the 2013 squad is back this fall — including three-fifths of the starting offensive line — some spots do need to be filled. One of those is quarterback and Grimmius said there are three or four guys who can play, it just depends “who stands out as a leader.”

Either way, Grimmius is excited that his team is faster and bigger than it has been in year’s past.

“The kids are excited and the coaches are excited,” he said.

Zach Hacker

Zach is the Daily Globe sports reporter. He has previously been a sports editor at both the Waseca County News in Waseca, Minn., and The Emporia Gazette in Emporia, Kansas. He is originally from New Richland, Minn., and now lives in Worthington with his dog; a beagle-corgi mix named Homer. In his spare time he enjoys spending time with family and friends, pontooning on St. Olaf Lake and watching professional and collegiate sports.

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