SOUTH COAST — It is that time of year again.
“It’s the best time of the year,” said North Bend senior Garrison Mateski on Monday afternoon. “It’s football season.”
On Monday, high school teams across the state headed to practice for the first official day of the fall sports season. It was no different on the South Coast as whistles blew, coaches called out plays and the season was back in session for the North Bend and Marshfield football teams.
North Bend's linemn go through a blocking drill on the first day of practice Monday.
With a group of returners leading the way, the Bulldogs are looking to get a fast jump on the season and to build off of last year’s 7-3 season. As head coach Gary Prince stressed to his team, it all starts with attitude.
“I want to see enthusiasm to start with from all the kids. And when you’ve got an enthusiastic group of kids who are just excited as you are, I love that,” said Prince. “I just want to see kids who have a desire to compete in whatever it is we’re doing and kids who are ready to learn. It’s that teacher in us, we want kids who are ready to learn so that’s what’s cool.”
After one day of practice the team has 57 players out, a number Prince is hoping will reach into the mid-60s. Down the road, the Pirates took the field with 56 players and a similar message for the first day of fall camp.
“It’s good to see kids with a lot of good effort, a good attitude and being team guys instead of ‘I’ guys,” said Marshfield head coach John Lemmons, adding, “We’re here, we’re excited, kids are working hard so we’re happy to be here.”
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A season ago the Pirates put together a 9-2 campaign and made it to the state semifinals. With key pieces of last year’s team having graduated, this year’s squad is looking to put together the pieces to find a way to a successful season. Senior Josiah Niblett sees creating a bond across the team as an important first step in the right direction.
“Mostly just building relationships with these guys coming back and with these new guys. Show them what Marshfield football is about and getting them used to the team and how we do things,” he said. “And getting back on track from summertime.”
While it was just the first day of practice, both teams were already eyeing the first game of the season when the Bulldogs play host to the Pirates on Sept. 6.
“The fact that we’re playing Marshfield first is on peoples mind,” said North Bend’s Mateski. “We’re always wanting to grind for that and we know the season is coming up quick. We’ve been working all summer in the weight room so it’s going to be fun.”
The North Bend football team goes through the jumping jack portion of its warm-up routine.
“I’m pretty excited for that and we play our rivals first so I’m hoping to show out, show up and play a great game,” said Marshfield’s Niblett.
The teams will be in action on Friday Aug. 30 in a jamboree setting. Marshfield will be playing at Siuslaw while North Bend will be on the road at Cottage Grove.
Monday also marked the first day of practice for volleyball, soccer and cross country programs, who also will see their seasons start in the coming weeks.