Sports

July 27, 2013

Players feel the burn

Local teams take first steps to ‘Football Fridays’

The first five days of Georgia High School Association preseason football practices are merely an appetizer for fans counting down the days to the first crack of the pads on Friday night.

For some coaches and players, it brings excitement knowing football is back. For others, it’s an anxious period they just want to get through.

The first area game kicks off on Aug. 23, when Dalton High hosts Ringgold High at Harmon Field. The other local teams kick off the season on Aug. 30.

Thursday was the first day GHSA teams were permitted to hold “official” practice, but players must work out in shorts, T-shirts and helmets for five business days before putting on pads for the first time, which can happen Aug. 1 at the earliest.

So for five days, teams can’t hit. Teams can’t go full speed. It’s like eating a blooming onion to pass the time while the T-bone steak is being cooked.

“We had a coaches’ meeting yesterday (Thursday) and said we wanted to get these days behind us,” Christian Heritage coach Preston Poag said. “The summers are different with all the seven-on-seven tournaments. The kids are in shape. Then they have to do these days. Summers are so much different, but we’re just waiting for Aug. 1 to get here.”

After Friday, the second day, it seemed to some like the main course may never come.

“Two or three days like this doesn’t bother me at all,” Southeast Whitfield coach Sean Gray said, “because we need to get in shape and do a lot of explaining and walking through plays and schemes. But after a few days, you’re definitely ready to put on the pads. Unfortunately, we have three more days in shorts.”

The requirement for five days without pads was made by the GHSA executive committee in April 2012 to allow players to get into football condition. The decision was made after two Georgia prep football players died during summer workouts in 2011. Only one of those deaths — Locust Grove’s Forest Jones — was attributed to heat stroke, according to autopsy results.  

Still, many coaches feel many players are already acclimated to warm temperatures with the summer schedule full of seven-on-seven camps. Also, coaches are more cautious about the demands they place on players early on in the practice schedule.

“Most teams have been doing this stuff all summer,” North Murray coach David Gann said. “So these are just more of that and we’re ready to get into real football.”

However, Gann believes these days are necessary, even if somewhat frustrating. Seven-on-seven competitions are targeted for the most athletic players on the teams at the skill positions on offense and linebackers and the secondary on defense.

While linemen have been going through summer workouts with the team, they have seen very little time on the field.

“The summer workouts for a lot of people are voluntary,” Gann said. “You have kids on vacation and stuff. So you can make this (acclimation period) mandatory. I do think they’re needed. With the heat being such a danger to kids, the more you can get them used to it before getting pads on, I’m all for.”

Temperatures this week were in the mid to upper-80s and are expected to be the same next week.

There are benefits to these types of practices. Coaches use the time for conditioning, fundamentals, walk-throughs and special teams.

“For us, we start practice with agility stations,” Gray said. “We have seven agility stations the kids rotate through, which is basically conditioning. ... We’ve done some seven-on-seven because that’s what we’ve done all summer. We’ll have our special teams in by the time we get to pads.”

It’s a similar regimen on the other side of Whitfield County, Northwest Whitfield senior Andy Whisenant said. And while he said the players are anxious to get pads on and go full throttle, they understand what the no-pads practices mean.

“These conditioning practices starting up tells you the season is right around the corner,” Whisenant said.

1
Text Only
Sports
  • DHS at SE soccer 4 mlh.jpg Region 7-4A championship

    If recent history is any indication, this week’s Region 7-4A championship game may not be the last time the boys soccer teams at Dalton and Southeast Whitfield stand opposed to one another this season.

    April 19, 2014 2 Photos

  • St Louis at Rampage 4 mlh.jpg No Attack for Rampage

    The Georgia Rampage’s offense didn’t do anything in the first half — evident by the scoreboard.
    By the time new quarterback Bart Gloyd stepped in, a comeback was out of reach.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Former Dalton, Auburn QB Carter passes away

    When former Dalton High School football coach Bill Chappell learned one of his former players had died Saturday, he was shocked. His second reaction was sadness, not just because of Loran Carter’s athletic legacy but also his outstanding character.

    April 19, 2014

  • Golf at NobNorth 1  mlh.jpg Prep golf: DHS, rain steady for Nob Invite

    With the Region 7-4A tournament scheduled for Tuesday at Nob North Golf Club, Dalton coach Hunter Johnston was pleased that his team finally got its first victory of the season Saturday in Cohutta at the Nob North Invitational.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Doug Hawley: Cancer will not hinder Run for John’s finish

    With the seventh annual Run for John races scheduled for Saturday in Dalton, there is a community focus this week on the family of the late John Bruner.

    April 19, 2014

  • DSC women win finalé

    The Dalton State College women’s tennis team earned a 5-0 win in a rain-shortened match at home against Snead State to conclude its season.

    April 19, 2014

  • Play ball on the Westside

    The long-awaited Westside Park opened to rave reviews on April 10, with baseball teams ranging from 6 to 12 years christening the the newest Whitfield County recreation facility.

    April 19, 2014

  • DHS at Heritage 1 mlh.jpg Generally disappointed

    Dalton High School’s baseball team started the fifth inning of Friday’s crucial Sub-region 7B-4A game against Heritage-Catoosa with four consecutive hits.
    The only problem for the Catamounts was that was where their good hitting started and stopped.

    April 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • Prep roundup: Upset puts N. Murray in baseball playoffs

    Over the past few seasons, a late-season game with Sonoraville has been the deciding factor in whether the North Murray High School baseball team advanced to the state playoffs.

    April 18, 2014

  • Miller, Mariners off to NAIA title tournament

    Former Dalton High School golf standout Chase Miller is finishing his senior year at College of Coastal Georgia on a high note.

    April 18, 2014