Ready, set, practice

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 6, 2004

High school football players throughout the state stepped onto football fields and into the blistering heat Monday morning as the first day of summer practices began for Alabama High School Athletic Association member schools.

Coaches in Butler County all agreed that despite the heat, players seemed fired up to begin preparations for the upcoming season, which begins Aug. 27.

&uot;Everybody seemed ready to go,&uot; Greenville High School Head Football Coach Alvin Briggs said. &uot;For what you can do in shorts, I think things went pretty good overall. Most of the guys did what they needed to do to be in shape for this summer and came and worked out. You’re always going to have a few stragglers, but overall we looked pretty good.&uot;

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Briggs credits his players’ dedication during the off-season for their ability to beat the heat during two-a-days.

&uot;Part of getting the players used to the heat and the sun is getting them to the school for summer workouts,&uot; Briggs said. &uot;There no such thing of being in tip-top shape for football practice anyway. You can be in the best shape you can, once you put that helmet on and start running, it’s going to take something out of you.&uot;

Georgiana Head Coach Keith York said his players were also pumped to be back on the gridiron, but is using this week as a refresher course of sorts.

&uot;The players were excited and ready to go,&uot; York said. &uot;Everything’s going fine. We’re in the process of trying to get children back in the swing of things and back in shape.&uot;

Even though York believes most of his players are in shape, he plans to use all necessary safety measures to make sure they are safe.

&uot;We’re going to take precautions with the heat by keeping the players watered good and keep an eye on everybody,&uot; York said. &uot;That’s why the state mandates that you go in helmets and shorts the first couple days.&uot;

McKenzie’s new head coach David Kirkland said his players are also doing well at practice, but is mainly pleased with the numbers of players coming out.

&uot;I’m real pleased of how the guys are showing up,&uot; Kirkland said. &uot;I had 17 players come out on Tuesday.&uot;

Kirkland believes practices will be slow at first, while his players adapt to his new system, but has hope for the future.

&uot;They’re having to get used to a new system and having to get used to my terminology, plays and play calling,&uot; Kirkland said. &uot;They’re having problems with the terminology shift.&uot;

Georgiana is only holding one-a-day practices this week and McKenzie will begin two-a-days beginning Thursday.

Fort Dale Academy, which is a member of the Alabama Independent School Association, began practice last Thursday with four-a-day practices, which required players to stay at the school overnight.

&uot;It’s Tuesday evening and we’ve already had 12 practices,&uot; FDA Head Coach James &uot;Speed&uot; Sampley said. &uot;We have broken down each practice to work on one specific thing. We’re not trying to do everything at once to confuse them. If we’re working on our off tackle power play, that’s what we work that whole practice.&uot;

Sampley said even though his players had to endure two long days of practice last week, their spirits remained high.

&uot;The attitude of the children has been good and they’ve worked hard,&uot; Sampley said. &uot;It’s been hot and we’ve been out there a lot. We were outside eight hours the first two days and now we’re out there five and a half hours. Fatigue is starting to set in a little bit, but we want to get all that over with so that when we start back with one-a-days on Thursday we’ll be ready.&uot;