Most District public high school football players finally could begin contact drills yesterday afternoon when the last of reconditioned helmets and shoulder pads were delivered to schools after a 10-day delay. But the incident still has wreaked havoc on the preseason practice and scrimmage schedule, several coaches said.

The helmets began arriving at schools Tuesday, and H.D. Woodson received the final shipment -- 97 helmets -- in time for practice yesterday. But it didn't come before Coach Greg Fuller was forced to cancel scrimmages scheduled for yesterday and tomorrow. That's because the D.C. Interscholastic Athletic Association requires teams to conduct three days of workouts in pads and helmets before playing scrimmages or games.

Fuller said his team most likely will not be able to schedule another scrimmage before its season opener on Aug. 26.

"I understand the rules because they are there for the safety of the players," he said. "But this has been disappointing."

Theodore Roosevelt Coach Daryl Tilghman received his team's helmets Wednesday. But he spent several days calling other coaches who eventually lent him enough helmets so that his team could practice before its scrimmage scheduled for that day.

District officials acknowledged earlier that the reconditioning process began later than usual because it took longer than expected to conduct competitive bidding among vendors.

-- Judith Evans