It might have been just the second day of practice for his Fort Osage Indians football team, but head coach Brock Bult was in midseason form with the quips following a spirited workout Tuesday on the team’s grass practice field.
When asked about the difference he noticed between the first and second day of practice, Bult joked, “About 20 degrees.”
The Indians practiced at 4 p.m. Tuesday in temperatures that did not reach the 90s, while the humidity was almost bearable.
“A lot better today weather-wise and practice-wise,” said Bult, whose 9-5 Indians made it to the Class 5 state championship game last year despite losing a host of starters during the improbable season.
“We had some guys battling the heat yesterday, and their teammates got after them a little bit. Our guys take a lot of pride in this football team, and they want to make sure everyone is buying in and working hard.”
Bult said a heart-and-soul player for the Indians this season will be three-year starting defensive lineman Valentino Ulberg, who was near the front of the line on each rep of gassers the Indians ran after practice.
“We’re brothers on this team, this our home, this is all so important to us,” Ulberg said. “It’s just the second day of practice, and you can already see that we’ve improved. We’re taking this serious – real serious – and you heard Coach Bult talk about the importance of the first day of school (Wednesday).
“We’re student-athletes, not athletic students, and he wants us to care as much about what we do in the classroom as we do out here on the practice field.”
To combat the heat, Bult’s team practiced on the grass field just east of the main turf field.
“It’s so much cooler on the grass, the kids appreciate it and so do the coaches,” Bult said. “We’ve worked hard all summer and now, it’s like we’re all back and kind of starting over.
“A lot of new kids, but you can tell this is important to them. We’re all excited about the start of the season, but we have a lot of work to do before then.”
No one has more work to do than starting quarterback Sam Carlson, a senior who opted out of football last year to concentrate on baseball.
“I missed not playing last year,” said Carlson, a former Indians ball boy whose older brother J.T. was a standout cornerback at Fort Osage. “I have so much work to do, and I’m doing my best to be a leader on this team.”
He replaces three-year starter Ty Baker, who is now playing football at Missouri State University in Springfield.
“I’m not trying to be Ty Baker, I’m just trying to be Sam Carlson and I’m working hard and getting better every day,” he added. “Our coaches are the best and I know this team is going to keep getting better and better every day of practice.”
The Indians open the season on Aug. 30 when they travel to face Raytown South.