The unmistakable sounds of whistles chirping, air horns blowing and helmets smashing together reverberated across the football field and bleachers.
And in the middle of it, McKinney North head coach Mike Fecci watched his young squad grind through drills and sprints, while witnessing the occasional player lose his lunch.
But for Fecci, this is all part of the process.
“We have to fight the grind,” he said.
And he noted this year’s Bulldogs will have to “learn on the run,” quickly adapting to new coaches leading the offense and the defense.
North enters the 2013 season with both new offensive and defensive coordinators – Kyle Hardin and Joe Welock.
Fecci praised the work of his new coordinators, saying they’ve done “phenomenal jobs” through the first few days of camp.
“There’s a whole new level of intensity I’ve not seen since I’ve been here,” Fecci said.
During practice Tuesday night, Welock continually pushed his players to give maximum effort, finish every play and “follow the ball.”
Welock said of his defense, “we’re going to be aggressive,” and play the game with a new found enthusiasm and physicality.
Welock, a former U.S. Marine, said he wants his players to think of each play “as literally a battle,” and a battle that he expects his players to win.
“We’re going to win the battle…it’s got to be personal,” Welock said.
Last month Fecci said the Bulldogs return just one starter defensively for 2013, leaving an open field for players to step up.
One of those players is sophomore defensive tackle Justin Nadibukie, who he said is “playing with a whole different motor” on the defensive line.
Along with Nadibukie, who Welock said is a “promising young man,” noted a pair of young secondary players have “great potential” to make significant contributions in 2013.
Despite some of the chatter that his squad may be to young or small, Welock said he and his coaches “take it as a challenge” to prove people wrong and get this defense playing at a high level.
To do that, he said, there a three things his defense must do on a regular basis: lineup right, know their assignment and make the proper reads.
He said these guidelines, if followed, will help his players play sound and effective defense.
On the offensive side, Hardin, who spent the past few years as offensive coordinator at Rowlett High School, is implementing a new system that allows his skill players more freedom, Fecci said.
He added the students are picking up the system pretty well, and the new system gives the Bulldogs a balanced attack, mixing in their strong running game with junior Trey Smith and sophomore Ronald Jones with a vertical passing game and play-action offense.
North’s offense is essentially set heading into the season opener, but its young receivers, especially Brennan Harris and Kirvin Parks, are making some noise early in camps.
“This is what we want,” Fecci said, noting the open field is leading to strong competition within the locker room for playing time.
North, who decided to cancel spring football because of new coaches and players involved in summer sports, will have two scrimmages before the season starts — one against Princeton and the other against Corsicana.
In that time, Fecci said, he wants to see his players work toward getting better each day and “answering questions” before the Aug. 29 opener.
Editor’s Note: TSB sports writer Mike Albanese is previewing our local varsity high school teams as summer camp continues. To see his feature on McKinney High, please click here. And watch for coming stories on McKinney Boyd and McKinney Christian Academy.