The 2011 football season officially got under way Thursday morning as Carson and Dayton high schools held their first practices of the season.
Both the Senators and Dust Devils had two workouts with two more scheduled for today. There is no contact allowed until Monday.
Carson is coming off a second straight regular season championship. In 2009, the Senators won the Sierra Division title, and when realignment put 4A football into one league, Carson shared the regular-season title. The Senators lost to McQueen in the playoffs.
"We had a good turnout of kids," Carson coach Blair Roman said following the afternoon practice. "I have 52 on my roster and JV has 27 or 28. The freshman team will have about 50, so we have about 130 kids in the program right now. That's a real positive. We might be 10 down from last year."
The Senators started conditioning and lifting weights in early July, and Roman said that attendance was really good.
"We don't have to pull teeth to get the kids in here," Roman said. "The (success) last two years has something to do with that. If we'd been 2-8 the last two years, I'd see a lot more issues."
Roman said that the morning practice was devoted to offense and the afternoon session was devoted to defense.
"I feel like we're ahead of where we were last year," Roman said.
The CHS coach said that the fact that he's had the base part of the offense in place for three years that the younger players are able to adapt quicker when they come up to varsity.
The Senators have some questions to answer on offense. Chance Quilling and Matt Nolan are battling for the starting QB job, and Roman has several spots on the offensive line to fill as stalwarts like Matt Cooper and Danny Gall have graduated. Jake Myers and Logan Peternell are the only returnees with a lot of experience up front.
Dylan Sawyers, who missed several games last season with a groin/hip injury a year ago and had off-season surgery, was on the field for both sessions. Sawyers said after practice that he expects to be ready for the Senators' opener against Highland High School in Pocatello, Idaho, on Sept. 3.
Carson will host McQueen Sept. 20 at 10 a.m. in a scrimmage. The Senators won't play the Lancers during the regular season for the second straight year. It's possible the teams could see each other in the playoffs, so it will be interesting to see how Roman approaches that meeting.
Dayton, meanwhile, has a new face at the helm. Rob Turner has taken over for Rick Walker, who stepped down after 10 years in the program.
Turner was missing a couple of players who were either finishing up work commitments or still on vacation, but was pleased with the turnout. He estimates that he has between 55 and 60 players for the two teams.
"You never know for sure (how many will last)," Turner said. "We had a good turnout. We had such a good turnout this summer. Most of the kids that showed up were here over the summer."
Turner said he is keeping Walker's defensive scheme, albeit simplifying it a bit. On the offensive side of the ball it will be a different story.
"We're changing everything," Turner said. "We're going to run the double wing. Hopefully we can control the ball and keep the offense on the field and keep the defense fresh."
Tyler Firestone, a running back and linebacker; Sean Derubertis, a running back and linebacker; Eddie Morales, a running back and linebacker; and Cody Yeater, a tight end and linebacker, are some of the top returnees from last year's squad.