During PIAA heat acclimation period, heat has been noticeably absent in York County

Patrick Strohecker
York Dispatch
  • Tuesday was the second day of the week-long, mandatory heat acclimation period for high school football.
  • Teams are only allowed 21 total hours of on-field and weight-room workouts during the week.
  • Temperatures are unseasonably cool for the week, unlike last year, when some teams moved workouts indoors to escape the heat.

The first two days of the heat acclimation period for high school football this week had nearly everything a coach could hope for.

Central York football players Andre Miller, left, and Justin Krentz, center, work for defensive line coach Andrew Horn during a three-hour football practice, according to heat-acclimatization guidelines, at the high school in Springettsbury Township, Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2017. Dawn J. Sagert photo

There was competition among teammates, conditioning workouts, position-specific drills and some 7-on-7 work.

The only thing missing was the heat.

The PIAA requires mandatory heat acclimation workouts for high school football teams before they can get into full-padded practices. It's the governing body's way of ensuring that all players are safely acclimated to the rigors of practicing in the heat of early August, rather than just going into things full bore without proper preparation. 

The only problem is that, so far this week and in the extended forecast, temperatures haven't been, and don't appear likely, to exceed 80 degrees. That's creating an issue about how beneficial this week will truly be.

"(This) doesn't acclimatize the kids to the heat," Central York coach Josh Oswalt said following practice on Tuesday morning, Aug. 8. "To me, that's in the summer. ... This week is just kind of odd. I understand the whole idea behind the PIAA doing this. It's the right thing to do. It's the smart thing to do. Mother Nature doesn't always have to work out."

Taking advantage: Football, like almost any other sport at the high school level and beyond, is becoming a more year-'round endeavor than even two decades ago. Kids are in the weight room during the winter months immediately following the football season, while most teams do camps and workouts during June and July. So most players are not going into the start of preseason camp rusty or out of shape.

Each coach uses the week-long period in his own way to assess different areas. At Eastern York, head coach Jeff Mesich says that the Golden Knights don't solely focus on conditioning, but instead try to use drills, 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 as a way to work players into game shape.

"We try to get our conditioning in while we're also teaching our offense and defense," Mesich said. "So, we don't try to do any like special boot-camp drills or extra running. We just try to get as many reps in as possible with the kids we have."

Oswalt is hamstrung a little differently than a team such as the Golden Knights because of the number of players that come out for the Panthers. Knowing that the two full weeks of practices leading up to Week 1 aren't nearly enough to evaluate all his talent, Oswalt uses the heat acclimation period to look at the players he has on the team and use that to help make necessary roster adjustments.

"Being a big school, it helps us weed out some of the guys," he said. "Figure out positions for them on both sides of the ball. Maybe we had them working with defensive backs in the summer, but maybe they look better at linebacker, so we can sort of finagle some things there."

Guidelines: There are strict guidelines to the heat acclimation period that prevent players and coaches from making up their own rules.

Teams can only have 21 total hours worth of on-field and weight-room training during the week, with Monday, Wednesday and Friday allowing for five hours of workouts each day, while Tuesday and Thursday each get three hours.

For the players, they must go through at least three successive days of heat acclimation, so, if they don't get three consecutive days in, it bleeds into next week when full practices can begin.

Central York's Rodrick Farley-June gets a drink of water during a three-hour heat acclimation practice at the high school in Springettsbury Township, Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2017. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Getting more accomplished: Last season, the heat acclimation week actually served its purpose, with temperatures and humidity rising well into the 90s and, later in the week, into the 100s for a heat index, forcing some teams to move practices indoors.

Regardless of how coaches use the week, the fact that it gets the teams on the field a week earlier can only benefit them down the road.

Couple it with the fact that conditions resemble those of early May, and not early August, and you have a week that allows for even more to get accomplished.

"We can move at a higher speed because it's cool out," Central junior quarterback Cade Pribula said. "There's not as many drink breaks and this breeze feels good, but we'll be ready if it does get hot."

— Reach Patrick Strohecker at pstrohecker@yorkdispatch.com