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Same game, new rules

The Morris football team has started its "official" practice schedule under new rules 
enforced by the IHSA.
The Morris football team has started its "official" practice schedule under new rules enforced by the IHSA.

While the new rules put forth by the IHSA have radically changed the way the Morris football team goes about it’s “official” business this fall season, Redskins coach Alan Thorson said that he is seeing the same old fashioned work ethic by the locals.

“We have everybody here that should be and we have good numbers at all three levels. The kids are working hard. It’s a good first day,” Thorson said of Wednesday’s morning session of practice.

That’s because every date for the past year or so — about how long preparation for the new football season is now — has not gone unnoticed by Thorson and his staff, either.

“I think the kids do kind of take this as the next step. We do kind of break the offseason down into different sessions,” Thorson said. “From winter conditioning we take the spring session and then divide the summer into two halves — June and July where we work on different things. So, this is kind of the next step. But these guys know that we are 16 days from our first game, too. Obviously things are more serious now. Right now with just helmets on, it’s a lot of review and conditioning for us.”

The reason Morris was practicing on Wednesday, and Thursday for that matter, in helmets only is due to a new acclimatization program instituted by the IHSA for the fall season. It mandates when teams can practice, how long they can practice and even what kind of activities it can now engage in. For full details of the policy, go to

“We’re doing 8-11 a.m. with the big challenge being the new format that the IHSA gave us. We’ll do our three-hour practice and then give them the two hours off and we’ll come back for an hour walk-though and watch film together,” Thorson said. “In the past we’ve basically done two full doubles, so now we’ve basically lost that second practice. I think we’re going to make the best of it during the walkthrough and by watching film.”

The first two days of practice this year were with helmets only, the next three practices with helmets and shoulder pads only and then after that it can be full contact. Still, restrictions with the Morris schedule itself also have to be taken into consideration.

“It’s time restrictions. Basically, you only get three hours of contact a day and then you have two give them two hours of break and after that you can have an hour walkthrough. One in which you can’t have a football or any helmets or anything. It’s literally a walkthrough. It’s different, but I think our coaching staff has done a good job with their practice plans and still getting the most out of practice.

“Friday starts 3:30 p.m. until six, which is the normal schedule. At that point the kids don’t just have to balance football, they have to balance classes, as well.”

It’s a balance that many schools may have a head start in navigating according to Thorson.

“I think Minooka is already in school and others have started. But we have today (Wednesday) and tomorrow (Thursday) and then we have an in-service (Friday). We’ll just do our one practice that day,” Thorson explained. “Saturday we’ll do our one practice and a walkthrough that the IHSA lets us do. Then we’re in school. That’s why we do so much in the summer — so that this time of the year we don’t feel rushed. Still, no matter how much you prepare, there’s still that sense of urgency that you need to get ready for the first game.”

It is urgency that both Morris and Minooka must be experiencing as they prepare for opening kickoff at approximately 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 30.

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