Tolton battles week-long heat in practice

Thursday, August 28, 2014 | 6:00 a.m. CDT; updated 10:16 a.m. CDT, Friday, August 29, 2014
The Fr. Tolton Catholic High School football team struggles in the heat on Tuesday with temperatures reaching the mid-90s during practice.

COLUMBIA — Face reddened from hours in the sun, Tolton High School football coach Chad Masters huddled his players in the middle of the dusty practice field. 

The 95-degree heat, it seemed, bore down hard on the Trailblazers, but Masters wanted to squeeze everything out of his team, even after the program's first-ever, season-opening victory Friday over Harrisburg.

Read more about this week's High School Lowdown previews: Battle, Rock Bridge and Hickman.

It's the first time Tolton has a winning record as a football team. And Masters doesn't want the team to let up, despite this week's high temperatures.

"When we come back tomorrow, we gotta be better," Masters said after Tuesday's practice.

With heat indexes climbing into the triple digits, Tolton practiced through some of the hottest days of August this week following Friday's heat-delayed game.

Tolton head athletics trainer Bryce Roark said the team has taken special precautions to protect against the heat, which has been hard to acclimate to after weeks of below-average temperatures. Roark said the team modified practice by limiting the amount of time in pads and making sure athletes stayed hydrated. Roark advised athletes to drink the body weight they lose during practice and to increase their electrolyte intake.

Roark said the team keeps buckets of ice near the field and monitors on-field temperatures with a handheld device. Outside of a few cramps during halftime last week, Roark said he hasn't noticed any other health issues.

Tolton faces Lutheran St. Charles at 7 p.m. Friday. Lutheran St. Charles rolled over Principia, 42-7, last week. The Trailblazers have been preparing for the Cougars' offense, which is "dangerous in the open field," Masters said.

Despite the heat and a team rule not to celebrate a victory for more than 24 hours, Masters said emotions from the Harrisburg victory have carried over to this week, after only winning two games last season.

"You know, we've won a couple games in the past and lost a few games in the past," Masters said, laughing. "It was good to start off with a win."

Supervising editor is Raymond Howze.

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