'Dogs vs. skunks for practice water rights.
The first few days of practice for the Rolla High School football team had the potential to be real stinkers.
At one point during Monday’s first RHS football practice at Lions Memorial Field the players were sent to the corner of the field (near 10th Street) to get water. However, before getting there - as a unit - they stopped in their tracks.
A skunk had beaten them to the water.
Apparently, a family of skunks has taken up residence in the area. And - as do the players - they seem to like a little free-flowing water on a hot afternoon.
“We saw another one during (Wednesday’s) practice,” said Bulldog head coach Willie Howard. “Somewhere between the (football) scoreboard and the drain pipe by the soccer field on 10th Street is where they live.
“I know there was an issue with a skunk during the summer soccer camp. I think animal control got rid of a couple of them. But there was one again on Wednesday when we were getting water.”
So far the Bulldogs have been limited in what they can do on the practice field.
Even though teams can compete in full-contact team camps over the summer - as the Bulldogs did just a couple of weeks ago - the only football gear allowed by Missouri State High School Activities Association (MSHSAA) are helmets the first two days of practice and helmets and shoulder pads the next three days.
So the first day players can practice in full pads will be on Saturday, and for the Bulldogs that will be during their annual Gatorade Scrimmage (9 a.m. at Lions Memorial Field; fans are asked to donate sports drinks or water instead of an admission fee).
“Practice has gone real well,” Howard said. “We’ve got about 55 kids out (grades 10-12). The kids have been focused. The heat has stayed away and allowed us to get solid reps in.”
And since the team’s new spread offensive system was installed during July’s summer camp sessions, most of the players are now familiar with it.
“You can definitely tell which kids were in camp every day,” Howard said. “There is a distinct learning curve. But in the days we’ve had in practice they’ve done a pretty good job in getting caught up to speed.”
Howard said several individuals have been impressive early in camp, including senior Caleb Copeland, a 6-4 wide receiver. Copeland was the top receiver on the Rolla Junior High School’s freshman team three years ago, but has not played football the past two seasons.
“Copeland has done a nice job,” Howard said. “He’s picked up the offense and defense well and has been catching the ball well. He becomes a field stretcher.
“And (junior receiver-defensive back) Keegan Chrisco has done a nice job. He’s had nice success catching the ball and taking on more of a leadership role. And (senior) Dalton Turner has done a nice job up front on both sides of the line.”
BULLDOG NOTES: Practice was halted briefly on Wednesday as a sophomore player - Howard did not give his name - went down after a hit and was having seizure-type symptoms.
“On a pass play he got hit,” Howard said. “It was not a helmet-to-helmet hit, but he went into seizures,” Howard said.
The player - a 15-year-old - was taken by ambulance to Phelps County Regional Medical Center and later transported to Children’s Hospital in St. Louis.
“He did have a concussion,” Howard said. “They were holding him for more tests.”