An old adage says that Mother Nature is undefeated.
Right now, her most recent victories are over all 11 local high school football teams in the Houma-Thibodaux area.
Weather has been miserable locally. It’s no secret to anyone reading. We all live here together.
It rains practically every, single afternoon — some days from sun-up to sun-down. The soggy conditions have forced hours of outdoor football practices to be washed out — either due to drenching rains or lightning.
That has some local coaches concerned heading into the start of the 2019 season, wondering if they’ve done enough work to be conditioned enough to win the four-quarter games that are starting up in just more than two weeks.
“The four-quarter games are coming,” Thibodaux football coach Chris Dugas said. “And I think we’re like everyone else. We’d like to have more time outdoors. We’ve been battling the lightning. It’s not the rain as much as the lightning. We go in the gym and get some work in, but it’s just impossible to replicate indoors the work that you’d get outside on your own field.”
There are three types of days right now for local high school football teams — and none of them are particularly pleasant.
Most days, it rains. After a dry June, July and August have been brutal. Usually, Louisiana summers consist of afternoon showers — that’s normal. But lately, we get morning, noon, afternoon and even early-evening showers — forcing teams inside.
“We may be the best arena football in the country right now,” South Terrebonne assistant coach Stephen Barba Sr. joked at a recent practice. “But we can’t beat the lightning.”
The second type of day is exactly what Barba referenced.
Because there’s been so much moisture in the atmosphere, even on days that it doesn’t rain, teams are unable to practice.
Local school systems have lightning safety protocols that keep teams off practice fields when storms are close by.
Safety first — all local coaches understand that.
But that doesn’t make it any less frustrating when it’s not raining outside, but a stagnant storm is sitting just to your north, triggering the lightning protocol and keeping you off the field.
That happened several times last week to South Terrebonne.
Dugas said Thibodaux has also fought the lightning, as well, as have other local schools who are in the same boat.
The third type of day is a normal, rain-free day, which also has its own challenges, of course, because it’s brutally, brutally hot.
Local coaches said that heat safety is always important in the preseason — especially because teams haven’t been outdoors often during camp, so kids are not yet in shape.
Dugas said at Thibodaux, the Tigers are aggressive about working water breaks into practices.
CCA football coach Randy Boquet said he visits with students throughout the school day to make sure that they’re doing the right things to be ready.
“It’s an all-day process,” Boquet said. “We’re constantly preaching to our kids that they have to drink water throughout the day and I think it’s important that the kids know that it continues at home, as well. You have to take care of your body throughout the day and week so that it’s ready when it’s time to be physically tested.”
South Lafourche football coach Blake Forsythe agreed, adding that he, too, checks with his players to make sure they’re hydrating and putting the right types of nutrients into their bodies.
The general message from all local coaches is that once cramping and other symptoms of heat-exhaustion start, it’s too late.
WILL TEAMS BE READY FOR THE SEASON? READY OR NOT, HERE IT COMES
Every coach has the same cause for their anxiety right now: “have we gotten enough work in to be ready?”
It’s a real concern. The high school football season is a 10-game grind and every, single game counts in the push to make the playoffs.
A lot of those early-season games are brutally close, and coaches have often told The Times that the best conditioned squad was who got the win.
But right now, with everyone stuck at the starting gate waiting for lighting and rain to blow through the area, the edge may fall to who ducks and dodges those afternoon showers the best and is able to get the most repetitions in the next 10-14 days.
“We’ve struggled to get outside,” South Terrebonne football coach Richard Curlin said. “We think we’re a good football team, but we haven’t been able to get out and play enough actual football to know for sure yet because of the weather.”