WEST NEWBURY — Steve Hayden gave his players a water break yesterday an hour into the second practice of a double session.
On a hot afternoon in which the sky offered no relief in the form of clouds, the Pentucket football players moved slowly from the field into the shade while removing their helmets.
Hayden, who is entering his 32nd season as head coach, remained on the field — in the sun — with longtime assistant Chris Perry, and the two took turns getting into a textbook stance for an offensive lineman.
After several attempts, the coaches settled on a stance to teach their players moving forward.
It’s the start of the Pentucket football season, and the status quo for a Steve Hayden preseason is teaching the fundamentals — blocking, tackling and playing penalty-free football. Hayden is five months removed from his induction to the Massachusetts High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame after logging a record of 183-146-2 in his 31 seasons.
Perry is quick to note that the induction doesn’t seem to have gone to Hayden’s head.
“The preseason has a way of humbling everyone,” Perry said. “It’s back to the drawing board, and it’s the same old Steve Hayden.”
In truth, if the success was going to go to Hayden’s head, it would have happened a long time ago. The coach has led teams to five Cape Ann League titles, three Super Bowl appearances and one state championship (1999).
This offseason, he lost defensive coordinator Vern Laws, who retired after stints at UNH, Lowell and Stoneybrook.
“Thank God Coach Perry is back,” Hayden said. “We’ll really miss Coach Laws. But Coach Perry and I have been together a long time, and we have a pretty good thing going. He’s the offensive coordinator, although we don’t really assign titles since we all work together.”