At 8 a.m. Monday morning, Aug. 6, the moment that many men both young and old had been waiting for finally arrived. Meeting for the first time in the cafeteria, the “Boys of Fall” had gathered together to get the 2012 football season started. The makeshift meeting room was packed. Seventy-five high school football players were waiting for their first instructions from their assigned coaches. From freshman to seniors, excitement was rampant as everyone anticipated what was ahead. They were ready to make an impact on the Hodag Football program.
Opening the day with formalities, the athletes received their team lockers and recorded their height and weight. Following this procedure, players received their equipment. This season brings the debut of the new “Black Matte finish” helmets, along with last year’s new varsity jerseys.
“We are using the older varsity and junior varsity jerseys as practice uniforms this year,” head football coach Jim Moore said. “Our motto this season is look good, feel good, play good, game day, pay day. It all starts with looking good.”
Following the equipment process, the coaches sat the players down to address one of the most heavily discussed issues of this offseason-concussions. It’s an extremely important issue that encompasses all levels of the sport, from the National Football League to Pop Warner levels of competition. The players received new guidelines for concussions, and had to take base line concussion tests to ensure athlete safety, as recommended due to a nationwide crackdown on head and brain injuries. Under the new laws, concussion paperwork will need to be filled out between every sports season, rather than prior to each school year.
Following the information and tests regarding concussions came the return of a favorite RHS fundraiser-the annual Hodag football card sale. The Rhinelander High School football team has sold more than 1,000 football cards to benefit the program every year over the last eight seasons, and this year looks to be no different. At the conclusion of the day, the athletes raced off on foot, bicycle and car to be the top seller of the annual discount cards.
“We’ve got some great prizes this year. If you sell 10 cards you get a customized t-shirt, and over 20 gets you the choice between gloves, a sports bag, or customized sweatshirt. It really helps the program,” explains Moore.
Looking ahead to the future, things are going to start fast for the Hodags. The team sees its first action Aug. 11 in a Green and White home scrimmage game beginning at 8 a.m. The following Friday the Hodags head to Wausau West for a scrimmage at 10 a.m. The first varsity football game of the season is a home contest on Friday, Aug. 24, where Rhinelander plays host to Superior. Kick-off is slated for 6 p.m.