Robert Husseman, The Triplicate

Football practice to be conductedat Gasquet school until Thursday

The gymnasium at Gasquet Mountain School received a sudden influx of temporary occupants on Monday afternoon.

Air mattresses, camp beds and sleeping bags were grouped together on the gym floor, surrounded by luggage. Snack food, water and sports drinks were set aside for the end of practice sessions.

The Del Norte High junior varsity and varsity football teams began fall camp Monday at the Mountain School field and will remain there until Thursday night. Team members and coaches will conduct two-a-day practices, film study and team and positional meetings in anticipation of the Warriors' season opener, Friday, Aug. 30, at West Valley High in Cottonwood.

"One of the things we talked about, sitting down as a coaching staff ... we wanted to increase team unity, build more cohesiveness," Del Norte High head coach Ray Rook said.

The Warriors will be performing community service work - at the Gasquet Fire Hall and American Legion Post No. 548 - listening to motivational speakers and watching movies. Members of the Del Norte High football booster club have arranged to cook the team meals.

Free time is at a minimum, and team members will eat and sleep in close quarters.

"It stretches out the time we can spend with kids," Rook said. "One of the problems I've encountered is, during double days, we're always rushed. I felt like we're always behind the curve.

"I wanted to get ahead of the curve."

In one crucial aspect, Del Norte enters fall camp ahead of the curve: conditioning. The players have impressed coaches with their strength and endurance gains in weight and CrossFit training.

Case in point: In weight room testing last week, five players - seniors Alan Olivera, David Plechaty, Jordan Carpenter and Cristin Puente and junior Zach Taylor - recorded a maximum squat at or over 400 pounds.

"I've never had that before," Rook said. "Never seen it."

The National Weather Service forecasts high temperatures in Gasquet to be in the mid-80s this week - around 30 degrees warmer than in Crescent City, and more closely reflecting the conditions the Warriors will face in Cottonwood.

"It's just a mental thing; (the players) have got to get over it," Rook said, referring to the heat. "If it helps to practice in 80-degree heat in Gasquet, sure."

The Del Norte coaching staff factored hydration and air quality (from forest fires surrounding Del Norte County) in preparing for the Gasquet camp to help the players get the most out of their double days.

"We all have expectations of players," Rook said. "Until we get them all in one place at one time, it's always a question mark. We're hoping to get some of (the question marks) answered."

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