HOUGHTON - The Michigan Tech football team started its fall practices on Saturday and added pads for the first time Monday, but head coach Tom Kearly was already pleased with the team's progress before the players even took the field.
"I thought our fitness test was as good of a fitness test as we've ever had," he said. "Coach (Kyle) Bangen and Coach (Chuck) Klingbeil did a real good job with them this summer. With only three weeks to prepare, we need to come back in great shape and I think we've done that."
Which is one less thing the coaches have to worry about as they look to prepare a team led by a sophomore quarterback and a defense that lost nine starters to graduation from last year's 7-4 team. GLIAC coaches predicted Tech to finish fifth in the North Division this year.
Receivers Matt Curtin, left, and Mike Potes clash in a drill Monday during Michigan Tech football practice at Sherman Field as Ethan Shaver (15)?and offensive coordinator Erik Ieuter look on. The Huskies practiced with pads for the first time Monday after opening training camp Saturday. (DMG photo by Stephen Anderson)
"We've always thought if we just have to coach them we have a chance to be a good football team," Kearly said. "If we have to coach them, condition them and prod them, then there's going to be some issues. We've only been through three practices, but they've all been spirited, our juice has been high, our energy has been good, and we're excited."
The Huskies are starting practices later than most other Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference teams because they opted not to play an extra non-conference game, choosing instead to focus on the challenging 10-game GLIAC slate.
"It's early in the process, but we have a good start," said senior right guard Chris Mullen. "I think the intensity has been there. I'm looking forward to getting a little hitting going."
The team's fall training camp will include practices every day, except Sunday, through Aug. 31 leading up to the Sept. 8 home opener against Tiffin.
Three in-depth Tech football season preview articles will be included in The Daily Mining Gazette's Kickoff 2012 special section, which will be published in Friday's newspaper.