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Monsters Back for New Season

THATCHER - There are no powder puffs, cupcakes or warm-up games for the Eastern Arizona College Gila Monsters football team this year. The team started its three-week training camp this week, preparing for the season opener, Aug. 24, at home against the Scottsdale Artichokes. On Thursday, players went through the preliminaries to get them field-ready and practicing.

"It's check-in day or processing day," EAC Athletic Director Jim Bagnall said. "They get all their paperwork done, physicals, equipment and orientation." Head coach John O'Mera spent the morning speaking to players about expectations and the team's code of conduct, while assistant coach - and John's father - Bob O'Mera instructed the players on camp schedules and routines. The players were also tested for concussions and took reading tests. In the equipment room, players were outfitted with helmets, pants, pads and shoes. During the early evening, the Monsters conducted walk-throughs in helmets - no pads.

EAC's second game of the season will also be at home against Mesa Community College on Aug. 31. The Gila Monsters will be on the road Sept. 7, at Arizona Western, in Yuma, and back home Sept. 14 to play the Glendale Gauchos. EAC's next two will be on the road with New Mexico Military Institute on Sept. 21 and Phoenix Community College on Sept. 28. On Oct. 5, EAC will host Snow College, then finish the regular season on the road against Pima Community College on Oct. 12. EAC will have a bye after that to prepare for the first-round playoff game, Oct. 26.

Over the summer, John O'Mera met with coaches from the rest of the Western States Football League, and together they came up with this new format. According to John O'Mera, in the past and last year, EAC and the rest of the league found it next to impossible to find preseason games or warm-up games. That inconsistency led the coaches to change things for this year, with an end-of-the-year playoff for a championship instead of going by overall records. The winner of the league stands a very good chance at landing a junior college bowl bid.

By Jay David Murphy sportsguy@eacourier.com

Sports Editor

Eastern Arizona Courier