VAIL, Ariz. (KGUN9-TV) - As Southern Arizona temperatures are expected to rise this week, some local high school football are starting to prepare for the 2014 season in the triple-digit heat.
Since 1995, the National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury at the University of North Carolina calculated 52 heat-related deaths at the pro, college, high school and youth football levels.
After only one such death in 2012-13, the center's latest report says, "This is a positive trend that could continue due to the efforts at state and national levels."
With the Vail School District's modified year-round schedule, the Cienega High School Bobcats began light practices this week, which start at 4 p.m.
Afternoon practices typically last about two hours, Cienega Head Football Coach Nemer Hassey said. Per the Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA) rules, practice times should not exceed three hours.
"We don't have two a days," Hassey said, " We acclimate them slow. We condition when the sun goes down, so at the tail end of our practice. Even the Saturday morning practices when we start with full gear, we actually condition in the front end of practice when its cooler."
Hassey got rid of two a days before the AIA banned them, he said.
Cienega players are encouraged to hydrate throughout practice, without set water breaks. There is a full-time trainer at every practice watching for symptoms of dehyrdration, Hassey said.
"With the concussion awareness and the heat issues that people had, you got to be real aware of what's going on," Hassey said. "Watch your kids, if they look sluggish you got to get them inside and assess them quick."
Most local high school teams begin football practice on Aug. 4.
According to the AIA's Heat Acclimatization Policy, players start by wearing helmets for three days. Days four through six they add on their shoulder pads. Full contact drills are not allowed until day seven of practice.