The Hays High and Thomas More Prep-Marian football programs are enjoying an uptick in numbers as the teams opened practice this week.
Hays High, entering its second year under Tony Crough, has around 90 players out, about 20 more than last season.
“Really nice,” Crough said of the increase. “We’re beating the platoon drum and trying to get as many kids out here as we can. I was surprised — we had 92 or 93 at our team meeting. There was 90ish out here (Monday for the first practice). It sure is nice when you look around.”
TMP is sitting at 32 players, “which is an improvement of about nine to 10 players from last year,” said Jay Harris, who is entering his first year as TMP’s high school coach after guiding the junior high team to back-to-back undefeated seasons. “It’s a good number.”
Hays High went 3-6 a year ago, staying competitive throughout the season. Crough said things ran smoothly in the Indians’ first practice on Monday.
“There was a big difference today (from the start of practice last year), just watching the guys move around,” Crough said. “It looked like they were more comfortable, the staff was more comfortable — everybody was just more comfortable with what our expectations are.”
Harris will be the Monarchs’ third different coach in the past four years. David Bowen resigned to take the head coaching job at Baldwin High School after guiding TMP to a 3-6 record in his lone season with the Monarchs.
Harris said he has been pleased with the Monarchs’ attitude and energy level in the first few practices.
“First three practices, I can tell the guys are working hard,” Harris said Wednesday. “They are getting after it. The previous two days (Monday and Tuesday) we were kept inside except for an hour (because of the heat). We had some good film session, we had some good chalk talk and we’ve been in the weight room still.
“Their attitudes are great. They really enjoyed being able to get out here Wednesday and get a full practice in.”
Both teams will hold their intrasquad scrimmages Friday. Hays High’s Maroon and Gold Kickoff will start at 6 p.m. at Lewis Field Stadium. The Monarchs’ scrimmage is set for around 7 p.m. at TMP.