Tradition doesn’t graduate.

    Those three words summed up Brownwood third-year head coach Bob Shipley’s address to the Lions prior to the first football practices of the season Monday.

    The Lions kicked off the 2011 campaign with a pair of workouts Monday and, despite returning only three offensive and four defensive starters from last year’s 14-1 Division II-3A state semifinalist squad, the message for this season is clear.

    “I told them we have to practice and play with a chip on our shoulder,” Shipley said. “There’s a lot of people out there who think we graduated our team, and it’s up to these guys to prove that tradition doesn’t graduate.”

    Shipley stated approximately 135-140 kids reported for the first day of two-a-days.

    “It was great to back into the swing of practice,” Shipley said. “Most of the guys reported in good shape. It was a pretty typical first day. Everyone seemed excited to get this season under way, coaches and players alike.”

    Triple-digit temperatures didn’t have much of an effect on practice, as the outside work was finished around noon.

    “We know it’s hot outside and we’ve been very mindful of that,” Shipley said. “The kids drank lots of water. I don’t know how many gallons we went through today. We’ll continue to monitor them and water them and make sure they stay hydrated.”

    Among the brightest spots on the field Monday was the play of the defense, Shipley stated.

    “We probably looked a little better on defense than offense, which is par for the course on the first day of practice, especially with so many new starters,” Shipley said. “There are still a lot of positions up for grabs and kids will be duking it out.”

    The Lions made it through the first day of practice without any significant injuries, a trend they hope continues when the pads come into play starting Friday.

    “We’re healthy, but the key is going to be staying that way,” Shipley said. “We also have to continue to gel as a team and make sure we’re fitting everyone correctly defensively. We also have to be patient with our offense. It’s a work in progress.”

    A week after the first full-pad practices on Friday, the Lions will take part in their first scrimmage on Aug. 12 at Eastland. The varsity Lions will hit the field at 6:30 p.m.