With helmets on, chin straps snapped into place and a few blasts from head coach Jason Dubey's whistle, the Alpena football team kicked off its first day of practice at 9:30 Monday morning.
"I'm excited and ready to go," Dubey said.
Fifty two players took the field for the Wildcats on Monday with both JV and varsity coaches on hand to work with the players as the first day of football practice opened for high schools across the state.
News Photos by James Andersen
Alpena offensive and defensive linemen practice tackling technique during position drills on Monday during the Wildcats’ first football practice of the 2012 season. For the second year in a row, Alpena is holding its first few days of practice at the Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center.
Alpena will spend its first few days of practice at the Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center, something that the Wildcats did for the first time last year. Coaches and players will be there to practice as well as to sleep and eat in an effort to promote team bonding before the team heads to Alpena High School for practices on Thursday.
"It's a great thing to build some camaraderie and spent some time together," Dubey said. "We also have a lot more time to meet and go over some things on the boards, so we take advantage of these first two and a half days and try to get as much as we can out of it."
Running back Ashton Dever said practicing on the CRTC gives the players a chance to get their focus as the Wildcats try to improve on a 1-8 campaign in 2011 in Dubey's fourth season at the helm.
"It's really good. It helps you bond with all your teammates. Being out here is really good and it gives you a chance to really push; you're kind of away from everything, so you can just focus on what you really need to do for football," Dever said.
Since there is no contact allowed in the first three days of practice, the Wildcats spent the morning working on defensive technique and positioning in different groups and then worked on offensive drills in the afternoon.
Dever, who was one of Alpena's leading rushers last season, felt good headed into the first practice of the year and said it would be key for all players, both returners and newcomers to give their fullest effort.
"I'm feeling pretty good, feeling pretty confident," Dever said. "We've got to come out strong and finish the day strong and give it our all."
The Wildcats open the season at home on Aug. 24 against Escanaba.