Familiar, yet different.
That probably best describes the tone as Gary Fasching began his first season as the Johnnies head coach with practice No. 1 Wednesday afternoon at Clemens Stadium.
There was still a beautiful day drill, players still had their last names fastened across the front of their helmet. But there was no mistaking the team had a new head coach – albeit one who has been an assistant coach in Collegeville the past 17 seasons – for the first time since 953.
“It’s a little different,” wide receiver Rob Voshell said. “The pace of practice is a little quicker. But we’re still doing a lot of the same things with just a few different tweaks.”
Fasching said it’s important for him to maintain much of the traditions John Gagliardi established in his 60 seasons as head coach at the school.
“I’ve said from the very beginning that all of us come from John’s coaching tree,” said Fasching, whose team practiced for two hours under sunny skies. “We grew up in this system. It worked for John for 60 years. So we’re not going to change everything up.”
A few notes off the first day:
* Players were timed in the 40-yard dash Wednesday morning. Junior defensive end Matt Workman recorded the fastest time on the team (4.73 seconds). Junior wide receiver Jordan Tradewell and junior tight end J.T. Ford recorded times of 4.74.
* Senior defensive end Sean Tillman was on crutches Wednesday. He suffered an ankle sprain while playing amateur baseball for the Sartell Stone Poneys this summer and will be out at least three weeks.
* Sophomore defensive end Eric Pelant will have surgery this week to remove tumors discovered in his ankle and will miss the entire season.
* The team is scheduled to practice again from 3 to 5 p.m. Thursday at Clemens Stadium. Practices Friday, Saturday and Sunday will begin at 2:30 p.m.