EAST LIVERPOOL -The weather has been unkind to the Buckeyes.
The Ohio football team has had to deal with drastic weather conditions the last two days as it prepares to face Pennsylvania in the 33rd-annual Penn-Ohio Stateline Classic Football Game June 29 at Springfield High School.
Practice got under way Monday at East Liverpool's practice field, but it had to be called short of completion due to lightning. Tuesday, the players and coaches had to deal with extreme heat.
IN THE HEAT — The Ohio team practiced in the heat Tuesday at East Liverpool High School in preparation for the Ohio-Penn game June 29 at Springfield High School. Indian Creek head coach Andrew Connor talks with Steubenville Big?Red’s Michael Constantini.
Though the conditions were rough, the Buckeyes were able to get in a good day of practice.
"Things were much, much better today," Ohio head coach Andrew Connor said. "The kids were really excited. I thought they were enthusiastic. They were a lot more crisp than yesterday. The kids were wearing shoulder pads today, and I think that helped them practice better than when they were just wearing helmets yesterday. The kids really came through with a good practice. I saw a lot of improvement."
Despite the heat, the Buckeyes were able to accomplish what they set out to accomplish.
"We had our ordinary practice schedule, and we were able to follow through with it," Connor said. "I give the kids credit. No one ducked out of practice. They conditioned really well. We had a couple periods of conditioning. They ran really well. We knew it was hot out, but the heat did not curtail our practice whatsoever."
With the heat, the coaches gave the players a few more water breaks during the course of practice.
"We gave them more water than we normally would have, but the heat did not temper back practice at all," Connor said. "We covered all of the things we wanted to cover when we got down to the practice field. We didn't cut practice short. We stayed on schedule. I give the kids credit for pushing through in the heat."
With the high temperatures, player safety is the No. 1 priority for the coaches.
"One of the biggest things is we want them to stay hydrated," Connor said. "We told them when they got here that they needed to stay hydrated. We got them hydrated in the locker room before we came down for practice. We had them drink water in the locker room. We had more water breaks. We told them that if at anytime they felt lightheaded or overheated to let us know. They were able to get drinks when they needed it."
The players and coaches were more comfortable with each other on the second day of practice.
"You get that with the second day," Connor said. "We kind of a did a pee-wee football thing where we had the players tape their names on the front of their helmets. It helped the coaches learn their names, and it helped the other players too. The players were a lot more familiar with the coaches, and the coaches were more familiar with the players than they were a day ago.
"The kids are starting to get to know each other. They are starting to make friendships. That is what it is about. The defensive line is becoming a unit. The offensive line is becoming a unit. I think that is a natural part of becoming a teammate. The players are coming together in that way."