Saturday was one of those almost but not quite days for the Campbell County boys soccer team. Top-ranked and consensus favorite to win the Class 4A state soccer tournament, the Camels fell just …
The satisfying thwack of pads crunching at the CCHS practice field could only mean one thing: Football season is just a few weeks away.
The Gillette football squad opened its first full-contact practice Thursday with the Cowboy Drill, an annual exercise to prepare players for the physicality and intensity they will face throughout the season on the field.
“It’s just really exciting,” said junior Carson Mock, who plays on the defensive line and at center. “You get all your teammates cheering for you and it’s just you going one-on-one against another guy.”
The tackling drill, which is a Camel tradition, pits a handful of linemen with a ball carrier trying to advance the ball to a goal line against a set of defenders. Space is limited to ensure plenty of contact each down.
The aggression and excitement escalates at the end of practice. Known as call-out time, the team breaks into two groups — defense and offense. Each side begins to raucously cheer and even chant for their side, eagerly anticipating the next series to play out.
Both sides erupt after contact. It’s preseason, but there’s no holding back. Not now.
“It’s intense. You want to get in there,” sophomore Chance Yanzick said.
Several players left the field sporting grass stains and minor cuts.
For more experienced players, the Cowboy Drill is a welcome return to the hard-hitting game infused with adrenaline, passion and dramatics.
“Whenever I get on the football field, it’s all about excitement,” said Mock, whose hand was bleeding as he left the field.
For underclassmen, it’s a great learning experience. Veteran varsity players get a chance to show younger teammates what it takes to perform at the next level. It can be intimidating for sophomores. Mock, who was a sophomore last season, remembers experiencing some nerves during the Cowboy Drill.
But there’s also plenty for sophomores to look forward to.
“It gets you hyped up. You want to get the season going,” Yanzick, 15, said.
Coach Vic Wilkerson’s seen the all-out drill’s ability to inspire enthusiasm year in and year out. It’s the best way to show his squad what they will face once the season is under way.
But it never gets old.
“The kids get some enthusiasm,” he said. “They’re excited to get the no-contact out of the way so now they can start hitting.”
Camel short scrimmage: Saturday, starting at 8:30 a.m. at the CCHS North Campus practice field
Annual Soap Scrimmage: Aug. 17, starting at 6 p.m. at CCHS North Campus stadium. Fans are asked to donate soap and shampoo for the season
Season-opener: Aug. 24 at Evanston