It's early August and football is in the air all over the county.
National Football League teams have started their training camps. College teams will be starting their seasons soon.
Here at South Tama County High School, coach Jay Hoskey and his players are ready to begin practice Monday and they feel good about how much they've learned during their preseason camp. The Trojans hosted their annual summer camp beginning last Thursday and ended it Tuesday evening.
South Tama County football coach Jay Hoskey, center, instructs his players about proper technique for blocking on the offensive line Tuesday evening. The Trojans held their annual preseason camp for four days, beginning last Thursday and ending Tuesday. They officially begin practice on Monday.
"I was impressed with the effort of the kids," Hoskey said. "I think we're progressing. I feel better at the end of the camp now than I have the last two years."
STC senior and the Trojans' quarterback, Sam Kuhter, agreed with his coach. He was happy about the progress of the team after the conclusion of the preseason camp.
"To be honest, I think that we're equal or even ahead of where we left off last year, because we have almost everyone coming back," Kuhter said. "I think everyone's heads are in it. We're pretty focused and ready to play. We're pretty excited that we could have a big year this year. I think that helps everybody work hard and do things efficiently so we can get more and more reps every practice."
About 50 players attended the four-day camp. Most of the 50 were high school players, but a few were eighth graders. Hoskey was proud of his seniors for taking charge and showing leadership during the camp.
"We have a good senior class," Hoskey said. "There are a good bunch of leaders in that group."
During the four-day camp, the Trojans focused on some individual skills, but mostly implementing their offensive schemes. Hoskey wanted to get a large portion of the offense installed now to allow the players plenty of time to memorize the playbook.
Of course, like all football coaches, the Trojans' coach has added some new plays this year. His players seem to be adjusting well to the new additions.
"We changed it up a bit, because of the guys we have and where we want to put them," Kuhter said. "We put a couple new plays in and repping and repping them. The more reps we do, the better off we're going to be."
Hoskey just hopes the players don't get discouraged if they don't memorize the plays as fast as their teammates.
"Anytime you put in some new stuff, there's a learning curve," he said. "About the only thing I didn't feel great about was when we were going back over stuff late, of course they were getting tired, we had some little miscues. That's going to happen."
Meanwhile on the defensive side of the ball, the Trojans stayed away from many defensive drills. Hoskey said those are easier to do when they have pads and can tackle each other next week.
Most preseason camps also include conditioning for the players. The Trojans' camp was no exception, but it was added during the drills.
"There is conditioning," Hoskey said. "We have so many skills and so many things to work on that we're trying to get our conditioning done while doing football things. We're not taking half an hour out of our practice to run them. We're trying to get them conditioned while they are playing hard."
However, Hoskey had to be careful of his players' health with the hot temperatures this summer.
"Thursday and Friday weren't as bad as a lot of days have been this summer," he said. "Even Monday and Tuesday were OK. But we are definitely taking lots of water breaks. We're not trying to run them to death. We're just trying to run through things. Some of it's cognitive and some of it's getting them to react in the right way. Then we'll try to install a lot of offense."
The Trojans and their coach are excited about the upcoming season. They officially begin practice Monday morning and will be going twice a week for the opening week.
"We got a lot of things in and a lot to see yet on where certain guys can do things," Hoskey said. "We're just scratching the surface.
"They're thinking about football," he said. "Their bodies are getting a bit more responsive. This season starts so early this year that it seems really early to be starting practices, but we're not in comparison to games. That first game is going to come around right quickly."
South Tama will play its first game on Aug. 24. That is at the end of the Trojans' third week of practice. While it's three weeks away, the Trojans are fired up and ready to play football after their preseason camp.
"It's been a long time," Kuhter said. "I think we're all excited to get back out here, because we love playing the game. We could do it for hours on end, so we're all pumped up to be back out here.
"If you look at those guys and ask any one of them, I think they're ready to hit someone," he said. "We're ready to go. As we keep hitting each other, then we're going to want to hit other people. I think come game time, we're going to be ready to go."