Sophomore Jaquan Shields found out very quickly what he needed to do to play on Leonardtown's varsity team.
The Raiders' conditioning segment of practice stunned Shields. First, the players ran a bunch of suicides, running up and down the field touching successive lines. Then came a bunch of 50-yard sprints and 20-yard dashes.
In the final drill, players rolled on their backs for 10 yards, got up, completed 10 push-ups and repeated.
"That one was the hardest," Shields said. "The first time we did it, I was so out of shape. I finished last."
Leonardtown has only 20 varsity players this season, which, Coach Alan Raley said, will force at least nine players, including Shields, to go both ways.
After the Raiders' first scrimmage against Southern of Anne Arundel County on Aug. 20, Shields said, he was already tired after a few plays.
So Shields knew he'd better get in shape. He's going to play running back on offense and move to the secondary on defense. After only playing offense on the junior varsity team last season, he said he realizes how difficult it is not only to play both ways, but to be able to stay on his feet for the whole game.
"I want to stay in shape," Shields said, "because if it's 14-13 late in the game, I want to be strong. That's why the last 15 to 20 minutes of practice are all running."
Raley was impressed with Shields last year but didn't want to move him to varsity because he didn't want Shields getting part-time action.
"I thought about bringing him up," Raley said, "but I wanted to let Jaquan get a little bit of confidence last year."
Despite standing just 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighing, at most, 160 pounds, Shields packs quite a punch, bench-pressing 250 pounds and squatting 400. Raley said Shields is the fastest player in Leonardtown's program.
Those talents, however, are not enough for Shields. Raley has to reassure him that all the running is worth it.
"Because he was so talented and fast, his skill and technique didn't have to improve. His talent got him by. [The running drills] are going to pay off in the long run."