“Midnight Madness” kicked off the Wellington Dukes 2015 football season on Monday, Aug. 1.
Football players started practice at 12:01 a.m. and will have two-a-days six days a week until the first game Aug. 28 at 7 p.m. on the Dukes’ home field. The team will only meet once a day when it starts practicing with contact.
Although eighth-graders will be moved up to the high school starting this fall, they will still have a separate football team.
Wellington athletic director Dennis Ziegler said there’s a big difference in maturity level and that’s one of the main reasons eighth-graders aren’t permitted to join the high school team. It would also hurt the students’ eligibility once they enter ninth grade.
“If they played up on the varsity level they would lose a year of their high school athletic eligibility when they got into their freshman year, so they’d only have three years to play sports,” he said.
Head coach Sean Arno said he’s got a good group of players this year.
“The core kids that we have worked hard all summer and it shows,” he said. “They’re in pretty good shape and condition and they’re pretty far along.”
Arno said the coaching staff established a good work ethic among the team’s players starting last winter and he believes the work put in during the offseason should start to show in the next couple of years.
He’s charted the players’ growth and said it’s already beginning to show.
“They’ve grown a lot in their strength, their speed, their agility, and so forth,” he said.
Arno became the Dukes head coach last year and is excited to start his second year in Wellington where both of his sons attend school and play football.
The main focus of the team right now is to fine-tune what it started establishing last year. Arno said the offense began learning spread plays last year and are still working on that.
“Defensively we’ll be very similar,” he said. “We’re doing a few different things but it’ll be some form of a Form A front because usually people are running spreads.”
Arno was awaiting Wellington’s first scrimmage against Independence Tuesday to see exactly where his players stood against an opponent.
“You’re always expecting the best and that’s what they start to expect,” he said. “Good things can happen when they set those types of goals for themselves.”
Kelsey Leyva can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @TWE_KelseyLeyva on Twitter.
Photos by Kelsey Leyva | Wellington Enterprise Some Wellington Dukes football players charge the training sled at the whistle of offensive line coach Ryan Morgan.