As the mercury soars well into triple digits, many schools are returning for football practice, and Dr. Brad Tolin, a sports medicine surgeon with the San Antonio Orthopaedic Group says that means more work for players, coaches, and trainers, 1200 WOAI's Berit Mason reports.


  "Athletes need to get acclimated to the heat," he said.


  Schools which did not participate in spring drills, mainly 3-A, 2-A, and 1-A squads, are allowed to begin football practice this week.  Schools which did have spring practice, mainly bigger 4-A and 5-A programs, start practice next week.  The Friday Night Lights officially switch on with the traditional 'Gucci Bowl' kickoff game on August 29th between Clark and Churchill.


  "Twelve players a year die a year in high school football, especially in Texas due to the heat and humidity," Dr. Tolin said.  "Many of those are cardiac, but many are also heat related.


  He says players generally need ten to 14 days to acclimate to the heat, and to the stresses of the beginning of football practice.  New UIL rules recognize that, requiring teams to space out scrimmages, setting new regulations for two a day practices, and limiting the amount of time players, and coaches, can be out in the hot sun.


  Tolin says high school coaches have become much more versed on the signs of distress to watch for.


  "Heat exhaustion or heat stroke, where your body heats up to the point where it can't cool itself off," he said.  "That is the most dangerous things they need to be aware of.  Most coaches and trainers are aware of the symptoms of that."


  He says bigger players, like linemen, have to be monitored the most.


  "Some football players, especially linemen, have a tendency to be larger than some of the others," he said.  "They have to be carefully monitored because they can have sizeable water loss during practice.  Coaches have to take special care to make sure they're hydrated."