It’s August and the temperature is scorching hot, which means one thing — football season is less than a month away. The infamous two-a-day practices begin bright and early on Monday, Aug. 6, for schools that did not participate in spring practices, which applies to just Class 5A and 4A Schools.
Coaches from across the state have returned home from the annual Texas High School Coaches Association convention, this year in San Antonio, and equipment will be handed out to young student athletes later this week.
Though the first four days will be helmets only, players will put on a full set of pads on Friday, Aug. 10. Evadale is the lone school that elects to do a “midnight madness” sort of thing by practicing at 12:01 a.m. on Friday.
The first set of scrimmages will begin Aug. 17, and most scrimmages have literally become game-type scrimmages, minus the band and cheerleaders. Some of the first week of scrimmages include Goose Creek Memorial at Little Cypress-Mauriceville, Lumberton at Bridge City, Orangefield at Vidor, Newton at Silsbee and West Orange-Stark at Nederland.
The first week of games, which is for some reason called Week 0, begins Thursday, Aug. 30 when two local teams take the field as Lumberton travels to Goose Creek Memorial (Baytown) and Cleveland plays Kirbyville at Provost Umphrey Stadium at Lamar University.
Other Week 0 games to look forward to are West Brook vs. Ozen at the Butch, Central at Port Arthur Memorial, LC-M at WO-S, Crosby at Nederland, Port Neches-Groves at Silsbee, Bridge City at Newton and Orangefield at East Chambers.
One interesting rule change this year includes helmets coming off players during a game. If a player loses his helmet (other than as the result of a foul by the opponent, such as a facemask), it will be treated like an injury. The player must leave the game and is not allowed to participate for the next play.
Of course, if the ball carrier’s helmet comes off, the play is immediately whistled dead.
College football will take the helmet rule a little further. With less than 1 minute remaining in the 2nd or 4th quarters, if the ball carrier’s helmet comes off, the play will be whistled dead and there will be a 10-second runoff. If the team has a timeout remaining, the coach can elect to use the timeout to keep from having 10 seconds removed from the clock.
ESPN brought up a great play scenario for this rule — with 9 seconds remaining in the game, your team is down by a few points, the ball carrier’s helmet comes off and the play is whistled dead. With no timeouts remaining, the officials would then declare the game over. Ouch. Keep those helmets on.
Another rule of importance is the kickoff, which has been moved up five yards and will now be placed at the 35-yard line. In case of a touchback, the ball will be placed on the 25-yard line instead of the 20.
The season also begins Thursday, Aug. 30, with a slew of games including Texas A&M (-8) at Louisiana Tech, UCLA (-15) at Rice, and Mike Leach returns to the sidelines after being fired by Texas Tech when his Cougars of Washington State visit BYU (-13).
Other opening weekend matchups with opening point spreads are Boise State at Michigan State (-5), Ohio U at Penn State (-11.5), Wyoming at Texas (-27), Clemson (-3.5) at Auburn, North Texas at LSU (-45), Texas State at Houston (-40), Michigan at Alabama (-11), Oklahoma (-30) at UTEP, and SMU at Baylor (-13).
As a note of local interest, Texas Rage in the Cage Amateur Association will hold its next mixed martial arts event Saturday, Sept. 15, at the Beaumont Civic Center. Look up Texas Rage in the Cage on Facebook for updates.
The UFC will host its fourth installment on FOX this Saturday, Aug. 4, as the company will air at least four fights from the Staples Center on network television beginning at 7 p.m.
The co-main events have title implications as UFC president Dana White stated earlier this week that the most impressive winner of the two fights will next fight for the UFC lightweight title.
The main event has Mauricio “Shogun” Rua (20-6) vs. Brandon “The Truth” Vera (12-5), and scheduled for the co-main event is Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida (17-3) vs. Ryan “Darth” Bader (14-2). Rua should have no problems defeating Vera and Machida is a heavy favorite against Bader.
Current lightweight champion Jon Jones (16-1), who next fights Dan “Hendo” Henderson on Sept. 1, has already beaten all four of the fighters participating in the co-main event.
Also televised will be Joe Lauzon (21-7) vs. Jamie Varner (20-6), who has seemed to resurrect his fighting career, and Mike Swick (14-4) vs. DaMarques Johnson (15-10).
Six preliminary fights will be shown live on Fuel TV beginning at 4 p.m. Those include Cole Miller (18-6) vs. Nam Phan (17-10), Phil Davis (9-1) vs. UFC newcomer Wagner Prado (8-0) of Brazil, Josh Grispi (14-3) vs. Rani Yahya (16-7), Phil De Fries (8-1) vs. Oli Thompson (9-3), Manny Gamburyan (11-7) vs. Michihiro Omigawa (13-11-1), and Ulysses Gomez (9-2) vs. John Moraga (10-1).