HERMISTON — When 118 high school guys show up for football practice at 5 a.m., that is commitment.
Hermiston coach David Faaeteete was pleased to see so many players bright-eyed and bushy tailed on Wednesday morning as the sun was rising.
“It was super energetic,” Faaeteete said. “They were all on the same field and had a lot of energy. It brought smiles to the coaches’ faces. It was fun with a lot of positive energy. Not a bad first day.”
The players weathered a strong wind and rain in the afternoon practice session, but they did not seem to care.
“Honestly, by the grace of God, we got a bad day,” senior Garrett Walchli said of the weather. “You find out who the dogs are, and who the pups are. We’ve been training and lifting, and to finally get the helmets on, that is the first step. I think kids are getting an idea of what Hermiston football is all about.”
The Bulldogs, who will be entering their second season in Mid-Columbia Conference, are having to replace their backfield with the loss of three-year starting quarterback Andrew James, and running back Wyatt Noland. The secondary also was depleted by graduation.
There will be battles for all jobs.
“I’ve been in this coaching game 11 or 12 years, and you don’t know what you have until you get into camp. Other teams have to get ready too. Other teams lost players, but we lost the most.”
Walchli and senior offensive lineman Dustyn Coughlin said senior leadership will be key until the younger players learn the ropes.
“You see the older kids dancing and feeling good,” Walchli said. “We have worked for this moment. Now we need to see who will fill the spots — who will step up. We are here to help them.”
The Bulldogs will be practicing twice a day through Friday, and 5 a.m. will be part of the game plan.
“Maybe on Friday they will get a treat,” Faaeteete said.
The Bulldogs open the season Sept. 6 against Pasco at Edgar Brown Stadium.
While the football team was up and at ’em Wednesday, the Hermiston volleyball team will have tryouts Monday and Tuesday, according to coach Amy Dyck. Official practice will begin Wednesday after school.
The volleyball team will open its season Sept. 7, hosting Walla Walla.
The boys and girls cross-country teams also will begin practice Monday, as will the girls soccer team. The girls swim team will be in the pool Monday.
The girls soccer team begins MCC action Sept. 7 against Kamiakin at Lampson Stadium in Kennewick.
The cross-country teams will have their first meet Sept. 7, hosting the Runner Soul XC Fest.
The swimmers will be in the pool in Richland on Sept. 6 for a twilight meet.
Complete schedules for all teams can be found at www.mid-columbiaconference.com.