GOSHEN — Once the Elkhart County 4-H Fair ends, the summer is pretty much over for a lot of area high school athletes and coaches.
Practice for most fall sports starts today. While a number of area school systems begin school around Wednesday, Aug. 14, the first day of classes in the Goshen Community Schools is this Wednesday.
“Every year it seems like that first day of practice creeps up on you faster,” Goshen football coach Kyle Park said.
Today is the first day back to work for teachers in the Goshen system.
“Since teachers go back today and Wednesday is the beginning of classes we don’t even have the benefit of two-a-days,” the sixth-year RedHawk coach added. “Our preparations for this season started back in January by having kids lifting and running. The idea is to have the players report in some kind of shape.”
The RedHawks open the 2019 season at Fairfield Friday, Aug. 23.
Other season openers on Aug. 23, have the Concord Minutemen at South Bend St. Joseph, the Northridge Raiders at South Bend Adams, the NorthWood Panthers entertaining the Jimtown Jimmies, the Wawasee Warriors hosting the Lakeland Lakers and the West Noble Chargers at Central Noble.
Kickoff for the openers is 7 p.m.
Long gone are the days where coaches were not allowed to have any contact with the players over the summer. Most coaches take advantage of the time the IHSAA (Indiana High School Athletic Association) and the IFCA (Indiana Football Coaches Association) now allow over the summer months.
“Going into the first day of practice we have a lot more of our offensive and defensive schemes installed,” Park said. “Still it is a fine line between getting the work in and finding the time for kids to be kids and for families to be families, both for our players and our coaches.”
Concord coach Craig Koehler has pretty much the same philosophy with the Minutemen.
“I like what we did over the summer. We basically had two three-week camps,” the fifth-year coach said. “We went three weeks in June and finished off with an 11-on-11 competition with Mishawaka, Michigan City and South Bend Riley. We took a week off and then went another three weeks, which we finished off by going to Plymouth to compete with the Rockies and Knox.”
The Minutemen are coming off a 6-6 season that saw them win a sectional championship before the season ended in a regional loss at Michigan City.
“One thing we learned last season is we have to earn everything we get. That has been one of our main points of focus in the off-season,” Koehler said. “We have a chance to be a pretty skilled team, but we are going to need to have some younger step up and become older guys.”
Over at NorthWood, coach Nate Andrews begins his sixth season coaching the Panthers. NorthWood finished last season with an 11-1 record, losing only to the Angola Hornets 27-26 in a sectional championship contest.
“Every year the summer seems to get shorter. We try to be as productive as we can while still allowing our players and coaches to have time with their families,” Andrews said. “The last couple years we have been following the less-is-more philosophy. We have been going with higher quality time with the players rather than higher quantity time.
“We are nowhere near where we need to be, but are hoping we can open camp with a spark. Team chemistry has been one of the things we emphasized over the summer.”
The lone new coach in the area is Jon Reutebuch at Wawasee.
Other rerunning coaches are Matt Thacker at Fairfield (second season), Tom Wogomon at Northridge (seventh season) Monte Mawhorter at West Noble (21st season), Keith Thompson at Lakeland (15th season) and Michael Campbell at Jimtown (15th season).
Greg Keim can be reached at email@example.com or 574-533-2151, ext. 326. Follow Greg on Twitter @gkeim_TGN