High school football across the state of Florida put on the pads for the first time this spring Monday afternoon.
The Baker School and Crestview High School football teams joined the rite of spring as they took advantage of the first full day of hitting.
It was a typical no-holds barred practice in Baker as third-year Gator coach Matt Brunson continued to incorporate his rugged style of play that saw the Gators taking each other to the ground during the tackling segments of the practice.
Things were equally feisty at Crestview under first-year coach Tim Hatten. However the new Bulldog boss had his team in helmets, shoulder pads and shorts and while the Crestview players went full speed, during tackling segments the players didn’t take each other to the ground.
At the end of the day both Brunson and Hatten were happy with what they saw from their respective teams.
“We are not real big on tackling to the ground in spring,” Hatten said. “The worst thing that can happen in spring practice is an injury. We want to minimize any injury we have.
“We want to go out there and work on fundamentals. And you can do that without taking folks to the ground.”
Hatten said the Bulldogs will go through full-speed tackling drills, but the tackles are supposed to stop on contact when the coaches blow a whistle.
If needed, the Bulldogs will have one or two days of tackling to the ground, but Hatten will decide on that later in the spring.
Monday’s practice at Baker held few if any surprises for Brunson.
“We were a little rusty, like I expected,” Brunson said. “But again, our guys had great intensity, great effort and a great attitude and those are the things you can build on. We had some guys step up and establish themselves.
“This week is going to be a big week. They are going to be fighting through some soreness and we are going to be pushing them. We are going to find out who we are able to count on.”
Baker rising senior D.J. Thomas was excited about the first day of full contact.
“I ain’t seen nothing like it,” he said. “We are out there hitting. Our quarterbacks were running the linebackers over.
“We are just aggressive and I love it. I love the intensity. I’m looking forward to the season.”
Four practices into his tenure at Crestview, Hatten had no complaints.
“I really like the kids,” Hatten said. “I like our coaching staff. I love our enthusiasm.
“I love the rate at which we practice. I like the way we practice. I really like what is going on here.”
Randy Dickson is the Crestview News Bulletin’s sports editor. Email him at email@example.com, tweet him @BigRandle, or call 682-6524.