Practice for the MPSSAA started Aug. 13, and Anne Arundel teachers reported Aug.16. Other area counties and Baltimore City had a week more of two-a-days, while the private schools, which started practice Aug.10, had up to four weeks.

In addition to the physical preparation of preseason, coaches point to the mental preparation, especially in football, in which many of the athletes play on both sides of the ball.

"Two-a-days are absolutely vital when it comes to high school football," said Joppatowne coach Bill Waibel, noting that public school teams have only three weeks to prepare for their first games.


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"Even in its simplest form, football is, by far, the most complex game we play. We need the extra time to cover all of these aspects: run offense, pass offense, goal-line offense, punt, punt return, kickoff, kickoff return, extra point/field goal, run defense, pass defense, short-yardage defense, three or four secondary schemes, two to four defensive schemes, two to six offensive formations … the list goes on."

The one change that could make football coaches willingly give up two-a-days would be an earlier start to preseason workouts.

"I think eventually we will see the [NFL] rule come to us," North Harford coach Ken Brinkman said.

"I am all for it on one stipulation, that the MPSSAA allows us to begin five days earlier. Instead of starting on a Saturday, let us begin on a Monday, and then all schools have equal an amount of preseason instead of the way it currently stands. This way, we could all have two weeks prior to the first scrimmage."

While Sparks said there has been no discussion about adopting that model, there is one viewpoint that all the coaches agree upon:

"You've got to give coaches time to get these kids ready," Atholton coach Kyle Schmitt said. "When you don't know what you're doing, that's when injuries happen."

katherine.dunn@baltsun.com