South Carolina teams buckle down on first day

Getting an early jump

Al Lown set two alarms Thursday night, just to be sure.


On Friday, the Silver Bluff coach got up a little earlier than he usually does during the summer. Around 6 a.m., he was on his way to pick up three players and head to the first day of football practice.

"It's just a relief after so many things that are not football, to actually get out here and know that everybody is here at one time," Lown said. "Obviously during the summer, kids are going on vacation and doing other things. To have everybody here -- the group together -- it's just a big day."

Friday marked the first day South Carolina high schools could practice, and the season is only a few weeks away.

Lown believes these first few practices could help decide battles for starting spots at wide receiver and defensive back. He said 6-foot-6 Blake Robbins, who plays on the basketball team, is a potential contributor as a wide receiver.

But not all teams practiced in the morning.

North Augusta, South Aiken and others hit the fields in the evening with the high temperature again a concern for coaches. Coaching staffs are on the lookout for signs of heat-related illnesses and are quick to take out players who might be struggling.

Sheila Cathcart, South Aiken's trainer, said while everyone knows the importance of hydrating well before practice and drinking plenty of fluids, it's just as important to eat and get a lot of rest.

North Augusta coach Dan Pippin said the later start means it's more likely he'll be able to hold practice longer because of the cooler weather.

Besides hoping for nicer temperatures for these practices, Pippin wants to see his offensive line gel and keep an up-tempo attack. To do so, he's paying extra attention to the players' conditioning, tempo and speed.

"We want plays to happen within 11 seconds after the ball is spotted," Pippin said. "We're working on the hurry-up offense the first day of practice."

As for the players, Silver Bluff's A.J. Washington is ready to start for the fourth consecutive season.

A 1,000-yard rusher last season, Washington practiced in front of a few coaches wearing region championship shirts on Friday.

Besides serving as motivation to repeat the effort again, the T-shirts can also remind Washington how much the program has accomplished since his first practice as a naïve freshman.

"I was very nervous," Washington said. "I didn't know what to expect. I kept throwing up because I didn't eat before I came."

While North Augusta and Silver Bluff were out looking to continue their winning tradition, South Aiken is trying to put 2010 in the past.

The Thoroughbreds are coming off an 0-11 season under Jeremy West, who expects a better record his second season in charge.

"We can say goodbye," West said about the previous season. "There's a lot of optimism out here and good spirits. We're ready to put that behind us and start another chapter."


North Augusta football players run drills on Friday evening. It was the first day that schools in South Carolina could practice. \nNorth Augusta's Triv Reece throws a pass. To avoid the hot weather, the Yellow Jackets started practice later in the day.

Coming Sunday

Georgia high school football teams start practice Monday. Read what the coaches have to say about practice schedules and routines.

More online

PHOTOS: Browse a gallery with more photos from North Augusta High School's first practice of the season at