With apologies to Allen Iverson, we talkin’ ’bout practice.
Fields and gyms around Los Banos came alive Monday with the sounds of hustle, the first official day of practice for fall sports in the Sac-Joaquin Section.
At this point, everybody has dreams of greatness, with championship rings dancing in their eyes. And this is where the foundation is laid for those few teams that will earn those rings.
“It’s kind of like spring training, you know,” Pacheco High School football coach David Snapp said. “You dread it, then it gets here and you’re full of excitement and it’s that time of year where everybody’s in first place and full of optimism. I don’t think we’re any different. We’re looking forward to the year and getting after it.”
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The Panthers will get after it with a full, healthy squad for the first time in more than a year, with running back Kalama Kamoku recovered from a knee injury suffered last summer before football season, and his replacement, Frank Ginda, recovered from a spiral fracture of his left wrist that forced him play the last three games with a cast.
“It feels great. I’ve been waiting for this for three weeks, since we got out of camp,” Ginda said. “It’s pretty exciting to be back out.”
Across town, coach Dustin Caropreso was busy installing a new spread offense with the Los Banos Tigers and breaking in a new quarterback in junior Adam Herrera.
“We’re looking forward to what we’ve got going on,” Caropreso said. “We’ve had good workouts in the weight room, things have been going good. We’re looking forward to it.”
After a good first day of practice, though, Caropreso had to do a little bit of attitude adjusting, gathering the team after a scuffle at the close of practice. He offered his players a chance to turn in their equipment if they didn’t think they could hack it.
“I don’t care if 20 guys show up tomorrow,” he told them, “I’ll win with 20.”
Herrera said the team’s attitude had been good during summer workouts.
“Everybody started getting a stronger mentality, started working hard physically and mentally, but out here in the heat and everything, it went downhill,” Herrera said. “We’ve still got those guys that are trying to pick them up, but it’s gotten better.”
Elsewhere, water polo players took to the swimming pool just weeks after the recreational club swim season ended. Several local teams are setting out to defend league titles, starting with the Los Banos High girls tennis team, which hasn’t lost a league match since joining the Western Athletic Conference four years ago. The LBHS volleyball team has won the WAC twice in a row.
In the pool, the LBHS boys water polo team won a league championship for the first time in the program’s history, along with a playoff berth. The girls water polo team also went undefeated in league play for its second straight league title.