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Catholic Central among teams statewide to start full contact practices on Friday

By: Jeff Dullack, August 15, 2014, 9:00 pm

NOVI – Because of the new practice restrictions, teams across the state of Michigan have been forced to hold off on hitting in full pads a little bit longer this fall.
Before this season, the previous rules allowed teams to begin hitting after the third day of practice, but alterations to the rules have forced team to wait one extra day before full contact practices.
And for a team like Detroit Catholic Central, regarded as one of, if not the most physical team in the state, Friday couldn’t come soon enough.
“This is what football is,” said Catholic Central head coach Tom Mach at the beginning of practice on Friday. “Up until now we’ve just been playing patty cake, doing the best we can with pads, but it never takes the place of hitting. Because in hitting, you have to keep your head up, and we have to put as much emphasis as we can in the next three days, before we get to the four way and we’re really excited to find out what we’re looking at for the last four days.”
The Shamrocks were obviously anxious to take the field on Saturday for their first full contact work since the Division 1 state championship game back in August, the third consecutive state title game appearance for Catholic Central.
For senior tight end Nick Cococcetta, who played a key role in last year’s run to the championship game, he was more than ready to have the chance at getting out to hit at practice after putting time in without contact for the past four days.
“It’s great,” he said. “We’ve been waiting all this time and going through camp and individual drills and it feels good to finally put it all to good use.”
The new rule to delay hitting one extra day during camp has been one that has had mixed reviews from coaches around the state, but the Shamrocks were more than ready to start hitting on Friday.
Mach said that one of the disadvantages of the new rule was that it doesn’t allow the players to have the necessary repetitions to use proper tackling form, especially in the area of keeping the head up to avoid head and neck injuries.
“It’s hard because you’re not really able to play football, you’re just kind of going through the motions,” he said. “I’m not sure how much it’s helped us or hurt us until we start hitting. I didn’t really like the extra day (without hitting), because I think we have to worry about keeping the head up, and we just need repetitions to keep them in the habit, but it’s hard to do that when you’re not hitting.”
The Shamrocks will have three full contact practices before playing live competition when Catholic Central will host a scrimmage that involves teams like Temperance Bedford, Westland John Glenn, Wayne Memorial and Ypsilanti Lincoln.
Cococcetta said that for he and his teammates were anxious over the past four days to get to this point and they’re finally ready to get back to the physicality of football.
“It’s good, we’re anxious to get back out here in full pads,” he said. “We’re just ready to start hitting again.”
The Shamrocks will open their season on August 29th on the road at Muskegon, which has played in each of the last two Division 2 state championship games.