Owls not kidding around as football season begins
Call it being "loose" or "relaxed", but when athletes get a little too happy-go-lucky on a consistent basis, there's always the risk of becoming complacent or flippant when the ball gets tossed up on game nights.
To be clear, Elgin football coach Jason Cunningham doesn't mind that sort of liveliness.
"Our guys can play (have fun) with the best of them," he said.
But the Owls' second-year head coach said it's been hard to ignore in early practices how dead-serious his team is.
Monday, as experienced by all Oklahoma high school teams conducting their seasons' first practices, was hot and humid. Under a 1 p.m. sun, the Owls pulled up their bootstraps and went to work.
"I was pleased. They were really crisp. There's no silly people on this team," Cunningham said. "They're very task-oriented. They're pretty serious. There's no playing around. It's a whole different dynamic."
That can be attributed partly to the group settling into Cunningham's system. A year ago, the players were on their third head coach in as many seasons.
A new year and a new goal perhaps reach the playoffs for a second straight time, and perhaps win a game there has resulted in a new mindset.
Senior running back and linebacker Draven Johnson might be the Owls' best example. Johnson suffered a knee injury in the fall of 2013, was focused in his rehab, and helped Elgin win a state powerlifting title in the spring.