SIKESTON - It's been a week and so far, so good for the Sikeston football team.
With all the publicity surrounding player deaths from heat stroke, Sikeston and the surrounding area caught a break from the dog days of August with cloudy weather and unseasonably cooler temperatures.
Nevertheless, Sikeston varsity head coach Charlie Vickery had his team prepared for the worst.
"The temperature and the humidity levels have been way down, but we still remind our kids to make sure that they hydrate themselves and to drink plenty of fluids before and after practice," said Vickery. "We give them plenty of water breaks but we also tell them to communicate to us. Football's really not a summer game but you start practicing in the summer and you have to be concerned with that. But the weather's been really good for us so we haven't had any problems."
One way to keep players hydrated is to supply them with their own water bottles, which is something the Sikeston coaches did this year.
"There's different companies that sometimes provide water bottles," said Vickery. "We just give each kid a water bottle and they're welcome to take it with them. We still have the water going on the side of the practice field. But the kids have their water bottles and they can get a drink whenever they want. They just have to keep them out of the way. It's just something we decided to do this year."
While the Bulldogs seem to have the heat situation under control, what was out of the team's control was the number of two-a-day practices they could have.
Years ago, Sikeston could get a week to two weeks of two-a-days since school usually started after Aug. 20.
Due to school starting early this year on Aug. 15, Sikeston had just one two-a-day.
"That's the only thing we've been concerned about is that we don't have many two-a-days with school starting as quickly as it does," said Vickery.
Missouri high school teams began practice last Monday. But Thursday was the first day full contact was allowed. So during the first three days Vickery and his staff were busy going over the basics with the team.
"You just try to teach the real fundamentals number one," said Vickery. "Number two we're just trying to get our base offense and our base defense in. While you can't do a lot of physical contact, you can do a lot of teaching and some conditioning work. Basically we're just trying to get our kids to learn the offense and defense."
The Bulldogs return nine starters from last year's 6-4 team. And interest appears to be high as Vickery reported a good number of players that came out for the team this year.
"You never know from year to year what you're going to have but we've got pretty good numbers all the way through," said Vickery. "I think we've got 52 or 53 kids and I think they're going to stick with us. So we feel pretty comfortable with the numbers."