High school students don't typically embrace anything as early as 5 a.m., so when John Tyler players showed up on time and ready to go for before the sun even came up, Lions coach Ricklan Holmes was plenty pleased.
"That lets you know that the kids' dedication and focus is right where it needs to be," Holmes said. "I appreciate them being there and being there on time."
John Tyler officially opened the 2014 season with practice at 5 a.m. Monday, the first day allowed by UIL.
The early-morning training kept temperatures cool and insured the Lions didn't have to battle the August heat.
"It was great this morning," Holmes said of the weather. "Kind of humid, but that's to be expected with Texas weather. It wasn't high heat; we had a breeze every now and then. It was very pleasant early in the morning."
Holmes said the cooler weather helps the players keep their focus and intensity during practice. The Lions went for three hours on the field before shifting to the weight room for another hour.
John Tyler will continue to start practice at 5 a.m. through Friday. On Saturday the players get to sleep in an extra hour before practice begins at 6 a.m.
"There's no sun on their backs, no heat index to worry about," Holmes said. "Once they wake up and start, … once they get out there and get through their warm-up routine, we're pretty much wide awake and ready to go."
The first day of practice was focused on setting the tone for the rest of the season, Holmes said, making sure the team understands what needs to be done for a successful year.
The Lions went 7-4 last year and return 16 starters. They're picked to finish second in District 16-5A by Dave Campbell's Texas Football, behind Ennis and ahead of Lufkin, both newcomers to the league.
With 22 lettermen returning and 80 percent of the offense back, Holmes said the rest of the week will be about building on what the team accomplished in the spring, offseason and summer. Holmes added the team got a lot done on the first day back, with the season opener 17 days away.
"I was very happy with what all went on today and the turnout," Holmes said. "Just making sure that we understand what we need to do and how we need to do it, knowing what we are doing right now is what we need to do to win."
2014 John Tyler Football Schedule
Aug. 22at Mount Pleasant#
Aug. 29Plano (TMF Classic)
Sept. 5at Longview
Sept. 12at Robert E. Lee
Sept. 26at Whitehouse*
Oct. 17at Ennis*
Oct. 31at Jacksonville*
All games at 7:30 p.m.
# — Scrimmage
* — District 16-5A
$ — Homecoming