Photo Gallery | Lee High School football begins practice
On Monday, high school football players both in Berkshire County and throughout Massachusetts spent the first day of practices facing off against garbage cans and padded dummies.
From the outside, these techniques may seem silly, but they're key parts of installing a successful offense and defense.
For teams such as the Wahconah Warriors -- teams that are breaking in a new starting quarterback -- these early days of practice are crucial.
"When we're in helmets with no contact and there [are] none of those things, [install] is the deal of the day," Wahconah coach Gary Campbell Jr. said.
Campbell spent a lot of time teaching during the first day of practice, making sure each unit knew what it was doing before moving on to the next play. He added that early practices are key for players to learn everything from the snap count, to the language of each play call.
At Pittsfield High School, coach Brian Jezewski and the Generals also spent a lot of time working to install their systems. The Generals' offensive attack relies a lot on timing and for that to work, players need to be on the same page.
Quarterback Chad Shade said that by Thursday, once the pads are put on, the team needs to be flawless in its execution.
"Once the pads go on, there's more contact," he said. "It's not about being out here and running through plays. You've got to be perfect. You've got to do everything the right way."
In North Adams, the players were even taking on coaches' roles. As the McCann Tech defense went through a formation/pursuit drill in a morning session, senior captain Gustavo Montoya made sure everyone in green was on the same page.
"Does everybody understand what we're doing here?" he said.
He sees it as part of his dual role as a captain and an upperclassman on the defensive line.
"You have to take that on," Montoya said. "If a player doesn't understand his position, then we lose games. When [the coaches] had us behind here watching, everyone has to watch his position."
Ty Mach and the Hoosac Valley players, like everyone else, focused on formations and conditioning during Monday's workout. Coach Dayne Poirot's Hurricanes reached the MIAA Division V state semifinal round last year, and their goal should come as no surprise -- finish what they started and win it all.
"I feel like our conditioning's very good at this point," Mach said after practice. "Our goal is always a state championship. Last year, we fell short. ... [The semifinal loss] is always in the back of our heads. [We know] everything we do out here is going to help us get there."