Photo Gallery | 2014 High School Football Previews
If Taconic football coach Jim Ziter had his way, Tuesday would have been the second day of padded practice.
"I would like to see the three days start the week before, like Thursday, Friday and Saturday," Ziter said, "and then have a full two weeks of having the opportunity to do full gear.
"Not that you would go full gear for all two weeks."
Ziter, who begins his second season on Valentine Road, has his players in helmets and shirts for the first three days of practice. The Braves, like every other football team in Berkshire County, in Massachusetts and in other states, are required to get through three full days of non-padded practice before the teams can start hitting.
In addition to the conditioning drills that are mandatory, Ziter and his staff had offensive players learning plays, linemen doing drills, and coaches explaining patiently how to line up.
"Especially with the younger kids, they get their feet wet" during these first three days, Ziter said. "They're not jumping in. They get used to how we practice and being around the older kids. So this does have its benefits."
Like everyone else, there won't be much time for Ziter and the Braves to get fully up to speed.Taconic will be in a four-team scrimmage with Putnam, Mount Anthony and Rutland on Saturday, and will scrimmage Commerce on Aug. 30.
"Now, they're really going against air, so everything looks good," said Ziter. "Once we put a defense out there and they have to go and block somebody, that's when it gets a little challenging."
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Defending Western Mass. Division IV champion Wahconah may be breaking in a new backfield, but the team returns its entire offensive line from last season.
The unit is led by senior Marco Anastasio, and he said the linemen are confident they can help ease new quarterback Nick Clayton into his new starting role.
"I expect bigger and better things," Anastasio said. "We've had the whole summer [together]. We've played with each other our whole lives and it's kind of like clockwork now."
The offense must work to replace former starting quarterback Ethan Wells and running back Eli Pease. Both players were very strong runners.
Clayton is not the runner that Wells was, but he'll rely on his offensive line to provide time for him to show off his arm in the passing game.
"It's important to give our guy some time back there, so he doesn't get killed," Anastasio joked.
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Quarterbacks are often asked to be the leaders of the football team.
For the Pittsfield Generals, senior quarterback Chad Shade looks to be in game-day shape, leading his team through conditioning drills during the early days of practice.
Shade spent his summer playing travel baseball for the Berkshire Americans of the Eastern New York Travel Baseball League. While training with the Americans, Shade worked out at Raw Sports Performance in Pittsfield under trainer Dan Larrow.
"[Larrow] worked us all summer," Shade said. "We had two sessions. We were in there lifting weights with conditioning at the end. We were working hard. We're ready to go this year."
Shade looked explosive running the option in practice on Monday. Expect him and running back Devon Tucker to bring an element of speed, and to provide the Pittsfield offense with big plays.