High school football teams across the state took to the field Monday for the first day of football practice.
The Mike Sarratori-era began in Dunkirk early Monday morning as the team took part in double sessions, starting at 7:30 a.m. for two and a half hours, and then coming back at 11:30 a.m. for another two and a half hours.
"We have had activities during the school year that was open to anyone and we went over basic stuff," Sarratori said. "The kids willing to put in the time are familiar with what we want to do."
OBSERVER?Photos by Mary Ann Wiberg
The Marauders have 25 kids on the varsity team, and though the number is low, Sarratori is happy with the roster he has.
"Some kids are scared off by hard work, and longer and more practices," he said. "Our numbers are low, but I want to have a group of kids who want to be here and kids who I can rely on and trust and who want to put the work in."
Sarratori is back on the Marauder sidelines for the first time since 1998.
"I have missed it," he said. "I am looking forward to building relationships with these kids. It's nice to be involved and helping the kids out."
With the open practices Sarratori held during the offseason, he was pleased with how much knowledge the players obtained.
"It was better than I expected offensively," Sarratori said. "They picked up everything where we left off our camp a month ago. They recalled everything which is nice. Defensively, it's a new system. They had a tough time reading keys. We need a lot of work on that, but it's the first day. We are fine."
State rules do not allow for full contact until Saturday. In the meantime, athletes are working on conditioning and learning the system.
"On the first day, we are looking at measuring equipment and talking safety - hydration and conditioning," first-year Westfield coach Frank Quagliana said. "We want to get some enthusiasm going here, but it's pretty easy because they guys are pretty enthusiastic anyway."