Written by SportsDayDFW.com
Hot August nights can't stop high school football in Dallas area
As a late-August heat wave makes its way across the nation, high schools from Kansas City to Minneapolis pushed back start times for football season openers by as much as an hour.
But in Texas? Business as usual.
Schools across the state opened their seasons on schedule Thursday and Friday night to triple-digit temperatures, in what has become a sweaty reality for area football players. When defending Class 5A Division I state champion Allen kicked off at Southlake Carroll at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Carroll coach Hal Wasson called it just “another night in August,” when asked about the weather.
The thermometer read 100 degrees.
“Our guys understand the nature of the game and the nature of the heat,” Wasson said. “We just have to deal with it.”
It was 101 degrees 30 minutes before kickoff at Wildcat-Ram Stadium in Northeast Dallas, where Lake Highlands played Mesquite. Lake Highlands had two cooling fans on its sideline, one of them was the large kind seen on college and NFL sidelines. Mesquite did not have the cooling fans on its sideline because there is no electrical power on the visitor’s side of the field.
When it came to battling the heat, many area coaches and trainers focused on hydration. Garland athletic trainer Scott Smith said his players are told to drink a gallon of water on game day. DeSoto trainer David Young said he’ll go through about 110 gallons of Gatorade and water on a Friday night.
“We have 17 student trainers, and each one has a job to do, including sponging the faces of players,” Young said. “We’re very passionate about dealing with the heat.”
Allen athletic trainer Tiffany Stevens said the Eagles switched what they gave players to drink to try to prevent problems.
“Last year, when we played Southlake it was crazy,” Stevens said. “All of our players were cramping.”
Plano West athletic trainer Casey Hunka, who is entering his sixth year with the school, had players start drinking Pedialyte on Wednesday to prepare for the game. Plano West had a previous player who had problems with cramping. A teammate’s mother, who is a pediatrician, recommended that he drink Pedialyte and it helped.
Flower Mound Marcus trainer David Ortmeier said the players have been encouraged to drink water throughout the day and they were going to be given bananas and granola bars at halftime.
Coppell trainer Barry Jones had nine student trainers helping. But numbers like that, along with extra water and Gatorade, sometimes aren’t enough to avoid cramps, dehydration and other problems when the temperature spikes. Teams utilized ice towels and swamp coolers on the sidelines, and players were kept to a strict dress code — whether they liked it or not.
Sachse players were told not to wear spandex on Friday night as they took on Wylie in their season opener.
“We’ve been fighting that all day today,” Sachse head athletic trainer Kathy Mihecoby said. “[The players] think it’s cool.”
Many players had the benefit of two-a-day practices in Texas heat leading up to Friday, making the transition to game day temperatures a little easier. But the same doesn’t always go for coaches. Just ask Garland Lakeview coach Kendall Miller.
“You can see how I’m handling it,” said Miller, pointing to his T-shirt and shorts before his team’s matchup against Carter on Friday. “This is the first time I’ve ever done this. I just couldn’t handle it.”
Smith, the Garland athletic trainer, said it all comes back to education. If players and coaches know what to expect, the heat won’t become a game changer.
“If you teach the kids how to properly deal with the heat, you don’t really need to do anything special on days like today,” Smith said. “They know what they need to do.”
David Just, Lloyd Brumfield, Michael Florek, Randy Jennings, Keith Whitmire, David McNabb and Jon Machota contributed to this report.
Get the latest Dallas sports news at SportsDayDFW.com