It’s been a whirlwind of a summer for new Blue Springs South football coach Matt Klein.
Between moving across state to Blue Springs from Chesterfield, Mo., a suburb of St. Louis, and getting acclimated with a brand new school and football team, it’s been an extremely busy summer for the former Marquette High School coach.
It was all worth it for him as he and every other Missouri high school head coach got to start their first official practices of the 2019 season Monday.
“The first day is obviously exciting,” Klein said. “New team, new kids, all those things make it really exciting. It was kind of crazy today with all the weather and the construction going on (at Blue Springs South). It was good to get our kids into an everyday routine.”
The later afternoon temperatures had the heat index as high as 111 degrees in the Kansas City area. Per Missouri State High School Activities Association rules, football teams cannot practice outside when the heat index his 105 degrees or above. Klein originally had practice scheduled at 4:30 but had to push it back to 7 p.m, when MSHSAA gave the Jaguars the go-ahead to practice outside.
“We would have liked to have been out here longer, but as you can see, our kids are fine,” Klein said. “We lift and run all summer so we can prepare for this. Our kids did a good job handling (the heat and humidity). We tell our kids it will be 95 (degrees) Week 1, so let’s go. We spent some time inside and when we came out here, we got in as much as we could.”
For the first week, Klein just wants to refresh his players on what they worked on during summer camps.
“We just go back through our installs that we worked on all summer,” Klein said. “This week, we are just going to hammer that home some more. In the second week, We’ll start approaching that game-week mentality.”
And it was a promising first practice for the new coach as he will have about 150 players on the roster.
“I think that is a tick up from last year,” he said. “That’s good. That’s a great starting point. We have a large freshman class of 70 to 75 kids, so we’re excited about that.”
Like Klein, Van Horn head coach William Harris had a ton of enthusiasm going into his first practice of 2019.
He’s coming off a season in which the Falcons won their first district playoff game in program history and finished 7-4. Regardless of the previous year’s outcome, it’s always a day to look forward to for Harris.
“(Activities director) Coach (Chris) Corrie said it inside, it’s like unwrapping a gift,” Harris said. “You have your guys who have been here consistently in the summer. But it’s always interesting to see what you get at this time of the year. There’s a lot of excitement around here.”
When it comes to the first practice of the year, Harris wants his players to go as fast as possible for any drill or warm-up they do.
“You don’t get pads on for the first couple of days, so my mentality is we’re fast,” Harris said. “We want to see speed the first couple of days because you don’t have to worry about hitting anybody. You don’t have to worry about the physicality so much. Let me see what you can do. Just run.”
The weather didn’t affect the Falcons much on the first day as Harris had already scheduled their practice for 7 p.m. The team started at 7:30.
“I got lucky, we didn’t have to change anything,” he said. “We dodged that bullet. I was crossing my fingers hoping the heat would go away so we could get a full practice.”
There were a little more than 30 players at Van Horn’s first practice, but the summer was promising for the Falcons. In the past, the program struggled to get a decent amount of players to try out. This year may be different.
“This is the best summer we’ve had,” Harris said. “When school starts, we hope to get a few more. I like where our numbers are at right now. I don’t like giving numbers, because I don’t want to jinx it, but I think we may have around 55.
“Keeping them around is a challenge. Football is a tough game. If we can get 50, 55 and get them to stay, that’s huge for us.”