On a warm July morning, the Newton, Hesston and Andale high school football teams assembled at Fischer Field for a limited-contact, controlled scrimmage to prepare for upcoming training camps.
The three teams went at it for about three hours, trading time on offense and defense.
This is the final week coaches and players may participate in team camp activities.
“I thought our execution has improved,” Newton coach Chris Jaax said. “We did a good job of flying around out there. We were looking at different guys in different spots and in different situations. I saw some people who can help us out, and that’s good. Offensively, we have some new people in skill positions. We have some guys back on the offensive line. Defensively, we have a number of starters back, but there are a couple of spots open. Nobody is entitled to anything. The kids will have to work for their spot.”
Newton held its formal team camp in June and also participated in a camp at the University of Kansas.
“We did really well the first day at KU, but we struggled a bit the second day,” Jaax said.
Jaax begins his second season with Newton. The Railers were 1-8 last season, but did produce three NCAA Division I signees.
“We’re still trying to change the culture,” Jaax said. “We’re trying to instill the right values.”
While the Hesston Swathers are the defending Class 3A runner-up, the team has some open slots to fill and is in the process of adjusting to first-year coach Tyson Bauerle, who came to Hesston from Sterling High School. He replaces Clint Rider, who took a position at Blue Valley Northwest.
Bauerle helped lead Sterling to a Class 3A playoff berth last fall.
“Since day one, the kids and the staff have really made me welcome here,” Bauerle said. “I think we have one of the best staffs around. The assistant coaches at Hesston High School are a big part of the team’s success. The players have really worked hard.”
Hesston finished its team camp this week and is awaiting the formal start of practice.
“We had a good week,” Bauerle said. “We have a lot of young guys. Going against players from teams of the caliber we saw today is really going to help them. On both offense and defense, we got a lot of our twos in there. I was happy with the effort they gave today.”
Hesston is coming off a 10-4 season last year, losing three of the first four games, but winning nine straight before falling to Rossville 48-42 in overtime in the state finals.
Kansas high school football teams begin practice Aug. 14. Newton opens the season Sept. 1 at home against Maize. Hesston opens the season Sept. 1 at home against Garden Plain.