High school football: The joy of the first day of practice

The two defending state champions as well as all other teams from Clark County hit the field Wednesday in preparation for 2019 season

It started in Clark County at 12:01 a.m. in Ridgefield

No rain in sight at the time.

By the end of the first day of high school football practice, it was raining on the reigning Class 2A state champions from Hockinson.

High school football: The joy of the first day of practice
New Ridgefield football coach Scott Rice wasted no time getting his players’ attention with a midnight practice on the first day that football practice is allowed for the state of Washington. Photo by Mike Schultz

The Ridgefield Spudders were the first team from the region to practice Wednesday, running on to their field just after midnight.

At various hours throughout the rest of the day, all other high school football teams were preparing for the 2019 season.

The defending Class 4A champions went on the grass in the morning at Union High School. By Thursday, the Titans will likely be able to use the brand new turf field on campus.

High school football: The joy of the first day of practice
The Union Titans got on the field around 9 a.m. Wednesday, the first official day for football practice. Photo by Mike Schultz

Later, it was Mountain View starting out at 3 p.m. on its grass field.  It was dry when the Class 3A Greater St. Helens League champions started practice, but within 20 minutes, the rain was steady. 

At 4:45 p.m., it appeared maybe the Hawks would get a reprieve from the rain.

Nope. No way. The skies opened up at Hockinson. 

High school football: The joy of the first day of practice
Hockinson coach Rick Steele delivers some words of wisdom through the rain during the first day of practice Wednesday. Photo by Mike Schultz

No one was complaining, though. High school football practice in August is known more for 90-degree days. 

This opening day just felt more like football.

The Hawks are hoping this is the first day toward three consecutive state titles.

“It means a lot every year, but this one means a little more because it’s our last one together with my boys,” Hockinson senior Peyton Brammer said of the first day. “It’s our senior year. I’m excited for it. I’ve been working hard all summer for this. I’m trying to make this another record senior season. Hopefully we get three in a row.”

Earlier, the other defending state champions from Clark County hit the field. The Union Titans won their first state title a year ago, winning at the Class 4A level.

“We’ve come out with great energy today,” senior Tyler Summers said. “I feel like we’re coming out ready to go to try to get another championship.”

At Mountain View, Team 39 got started. Last year’s group, Team 38, went to the Class 3A state semifinals.

Now a new group is ready to lead the Thunder.

“First day is always the best day. It’s also really special because it’s the last first day since I’m a senior,” Preston Collins said. “It’s really fun to come out here with the team and just work hard and have fun playing football. Especially in the rain. The rain is awesome.” 

High school football: The joy of the first day of practice
Preston Collins said it is a special first day of practice because, as a senior at Mountain View, it is his last first day of football practice. Photo by Mike Schultz

For the second year in a row, Ridgefield was the first team on the practice field. The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association said teams could start practice on Aug. 21 this year. The WIAA did not say anything about what time. 

The Spudders wasted none of it.

“We just can’t wait to get going and start moving the program, culture, and community forward at the earliest opportunity,” said first-year coach Scott Rice. “Sets the expectation that we don’t have time to rest with where we’re going as a program.”

Next week, Clark County Today will begin its series of team previews. We will start with the state champions, Hockinson and Union. From there, we will go by classification, from 4A to 1A, in the days leading to the first game of the season.

Kickoff is Sept. 6. 

The official season, though, started in the rain in August. 

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About The Author

Paul Valencia joins ClarkCountyToday.com after more than two decades of newspaper experience. He became the face of high school sports coverage in Clark County during his 17 years at The Columbian. Before moving to Vancouver, Paul worked at Oregon daily newspapers in Pendleton, Roseburg, and Salem. A graduate of David Douglas High School in Portland, Paul enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving three years as a soldier/journalist. He and his wife Jenny recently celebrated their 20th anniversary. They have a son who has a passion for karate and Minecraft. Paul’s hobbies include: Watching the Raiders play football, reading about the Raiders playing football, and waiting to watch and read about the Raiders playing football.

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