FOOTBALL - First official practice day is Monday, Aug. 22
by: David Ball Gresham High head coach Todd Nagel directs the action at the Gophers' high school football camp Tuesday night.

Football players throughout Oregon returned to the practice fields this week with the start of preseason camps - a chance for prep coaches to run their athletes through agility and conditioning drills.

While the NFL lockout was largely about splitting up a billion-dollar pie, one unexpected result was new language governing how teams manage their practice sessions, the goal being to improve player safety.

While the pro mandate has no bearing at the lower levels, high school coaches in Oregon are subject to rules set forth by the OSAA. The spirit of these laws limit contact during the school year and require summer activity (Memorial Day through August 1) to be limited to conditioning workouts.

'You didn't do a lot in the off-season. August would roll around and you'd grind it out for a couple weeks to get ready for that first game,' Centennial head coach Chris Knudsen said. 'Kids would be playing legion baseball and coaches would be working summer jobs. Now, that's all changed.'

Most teams meet on a regular basis during the summer months, often in the form of 7-on-7 passing leagues, which allow players to get familiar with the playbook and work out their timing between quarterbacks and receivers.

The OSAA has also put in a moratorium week at the start of August, which prevents any contact between coaches and players and no organized activities. This year Knudsen traveled to California to visit family (his son Tyler coaches at West Hills Junior College), while Nagel and his wife spent their time water skiing on the Willamette River.

'They've put things in place to allow the kids to ease back into things and to protect coaches from themselves,' Nagel said. 'As a coach you always have that voice in your head telling you that if you're not doing something, somewhere else another team is.'

Fall practices officially begin Monday, Aug. 22, with daily doubles week where teams put in two practices a day to get ready for the start of the season.

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