73 suit up for first Newton-Conover football practice

The Newton-Conover football team opened up its first official practice on Thursday with high hopes.

Brint Russell enters his second season as head coach of the Red Devils.
Russell’s goals for the first few days of practice are simple.

“We’ve got six days we can get out here and run around a little bit,” he said. “We’re going to make sure we are schematically sound. You can work on some things fundamentally, but you can’t tackle or block without a pad. It’s not really game-like. We are making sure we go full speed. You can work on things like pursuit. You can work on things like ailments, reads and keying in. All we are trying to do these next six days is stay healthy, get stronger as far as our read and football intelligence. We are trying to get smarter offensively and defensively.”

Seventy-three Red Devil football players were on the practice field Thursday, including 38 jayvees and 35 varsity.

“Our numbers up a little bit,” Russell said. “There is a lot of excitement. People are excited to be out. Today being the first day of football, there are going to be 400 kids out here. You never know. As things get tough in the next couple of weeks, hopefully they will stick it out.”

With all practices, injuries can happen, but Russell isn’t worried about his squad’s physicality.

“When we get into the season, we don’t do a lot of contact,” he said. “We minimize it to an hour and a half a week. By the time season gets here, we know who is going to hit and who is not. Our preseason is pretty tough. We’ve spent a lot of time in the weight room. So we’ve got a lot of kids who are stronger and more physical. I feel good where we are at physically. In terms of coming out here and beating to death, we don’t have to do that. We are going to keep ourselves as clean as possible.”

Newton-Conover’s first football game is Aug. 23 at home against Chase.