Robert Husseman, The Triplicate

Warriors push the pace in practice and push each other as August 30 opener looms

Don't adjust your eyeballs.

That really is the Del Norte High football team sprinting from one drill to the next, lining up for a play and snapping the ball and executing the play and running to the next spot.

Warriors head coach Ray Rook and his staff are taking cues from the University of Oregon and Southern Oregon University football programs and drawing up spring practices, which began Thursday at Del Norte High School, with an eye on speed.

The returning players have to digest revamped offensive and defensive playbooks amid a character-testing tempo.

"We threw a ton of things at them," Rook said in an interview Friday. "I couldn't be happier with the kids and the way they came together. I was happy to see the coaches actively getting involved."

The Del Norte coaches spent the offseason changing up the playbook. The Warriors, in Rook's estimate, did not run the ball downhill well enough during last year's 2-9 campaign (1-6 Humboldt-Del Norte Big 5 League). That will change.

"We want that to be our mentality and identity - we're going to run at you," Rook said. "If you can stop the run, that's the key."

The coaching staff made more subtle tweaks to the defensive scheme, which will again feature three defensive linemen and five linebackers.

Offseason weight room workouts drew between 15 and 20 players every day, and another 20 players participated in a spring sport, improving the team's overall physical conditioning.

"It's a great thing for us," Rook said.

Del Norte graduated nine seniors from last year's team and has about 20 rising seniors. The Warriors begin their season August 30 at West Valley High in Cottonwood.

Fundraiser upcoming

Del Norte is holding its annual Lift-A-Thon fundraiser this coming Thursday at 3:30 p.m. in the Del Norte High School weight room. Players will be testing themselves in five events - power clean, bench press, squat, 40-yard dash and shuttle run - and accepting pledges based on the amount of weight they lift.

Reach Robert Husseman