HOUSTON – It’s just a pickup game of football but its also an indication that some in Houston are more serious about football than others.
This summer, while most of us drank our morning coffee, athletes were gathering at Houston High School football field to stretch, run and play a friendly game of football with their buddies.
“You got to love this game to play it,” said sophomore Taylor Baskin who is looking to earn the quarterback slot at Houston High School this fall. “This game is not for the weak. You better be ready for the heat and some hard work on the first day of practice.”
The Mississippi High School Activities Association does not allow coaches to even watch kids practice prior to a certain date, so the boys from Houston have taken it upon themselves to show up at 5 a.m. just about every other morning this summer and toss a football around.
High school weightrooms across the state were also open this summer, and this really is no different. No one checks roll and there is no formal time to start or stop.
“We limber up and run a little bit,” said Baskin. “Some of us have jobs and so we have to do it early in the morning so they can go to work.”
After the warm-up and exercise, a football comes out and sides are chosen. There are no pads, so the game is touch. But boys being boys, there are bruises, a shove or two and it’s full speed when the ball goes in the air and someone has to get under it.
Those gathered last week said they help each other with blocking schemes and receiver routes. The early morning game is a little more passing and wide-open than Houston fans can expect on Friday night. But this is more about the love of the game than anything else.
“When I see my guys dedicated to the game it makes me want to work harder,” said junior Kavonta Marble, who will probably play tight end and defensive back this fall. “We’ve got a couple of guys who run to practice and then run back home after we are through.
“That’s dedication,” he added. “That’s what gets you in shape.”
Lineman Avery Seals, one of only a handful of seniors on this year’s team, said he already sees a different attitude among players.
“Last year was last year and some of us have been playing together since junior high,” said Seals. “Some of us want to go out winners.”
Senior running back and linebacker Damian Fields echoed Seal’s comment.
“We cheated ourselves last year and never really finished a game like we should have,” said Fields. “To be strong in the fourth quarter, you have to be in shape. That’s why I’m out here.
“You don’t need a coach to do that,” he added. “You just have to want it in your heart.”