Before the pads get put on, it’s more about teaching and conditioning than hitting.
On Thursday, schools across the Georgia and area prepared for the upcoming football season by going through practices without full pads, which can’t be used until Aug. 1.
According to Georgia High School Association rules, football practice can begin five consecutive weekdays prior to that date. Each of the first five practices for a player can’t last for more than two hours, and protective equipment is limited to helmets and mouthpieces.
Teams can also hold a walk-through during this conditioning period if there is at least a two hour break in between.
Starting Aug. 1, players can practice in full pads, provided they took part in five conditioning practices.
Local teams elected to go Thursday morning or evening, with Laney choosing the evening. Players started by working out before they hit the field.
“You try to emphasize the fundamentals and you get them in shape,” Wildcats coach Lemuel Lackey said. “It’s better to be in shape before you get the pads on than it is to start at the same time.”
At Richmond Academy, the Musketeers practiced in the morning.
It wasn’t as physical because they couldn’t practice in pads, meaning coach Chris Hughes could stress the basics for the younger players, including the terminology of plays.
“It’s a lot of teaching the new guys plays and formations, things like that,” Hughes said. “We’ve got a lot of new kids, so we want to make sure they know where to be with the blocking assignments, and we want to make sure they know how to line up.”
Pre-Aug. 1 practices are designed to help teams get used to practicing in the heat before full pads are introduced.
But even without the pads, Lackey can sense it: football is back.
“It is here. Right now, it’s full throttle,” Lackey said. “We’re trying to get ready for the pad season coming up and hopefully we’ll be able to respond early in the season.”