For schools in Georgia, football season 'never stops'

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Hephzibah coach John Bowen routinely gets asked the same question.

Thomson and other Georgia schools open practice for the 2011 season this week.   Corey Perrine/Staff
Corey Perrine/Staff
Thomson and other Georgia schools open practice for the 2011 season this week.

When does football season begin?

"It never really stops," he said. "We stop for about two weeks at Christmas and that's about it."

In Georgia, football season begins Monday with the first day of practice. Some teams like Burke County, which advanced to the Class AAA semifinals last year, are ready to get back on the field.

"It's always an exciting time of year for me," Bears coach Eric Parker said. "I love football season. I'm really looking for it to getting here and putting pads on."

Already this summer, football players have been lifting weights and running. Some have traveled to individual camps at various colleges, while others have participated in 7-on-7 passing leagues.

None of that compares to the first day of practice, Aquinas coach Matt LeZotte said.

"You can say what you want about offseason conditioning, but you're really able to learn a lot about your team in this first week of practice," he said.

For many area teams, practices will be held just once a day. Two-a-days have become a thing of the past. The reason? The school schedule has been moved up.

In Columbia and Richmond counties, teachers report this week before students go back Aug. 8. In Burke and Jefferson counties, school starts Wednesday, while Lincoln County and Washington-Wilkes begin school Friday. In McDuffie County, Thomson begins its school year Aug. 18.

With less practice time, coaches say the first day the team meets is important. The Georgia High School Football Association allows teams to practice in full pads for just three days while players adjust to the steamy summer conditions. Temperatures are expected to remain in the mid-to-upper 90s for most of the week.

Some players have already acclimated themselves to the weather. Some players have been excited for awhile about the upcoming season.

Burke County has 108 players in its program. Parker said 55 players will be on varsity while the rest will also play junior varsity.

"We've been trying to run some of them off during the summer," Parker said, laughing. "They just keep showing up."

Monday's schedule

Practice times for some area Georgia schools:

- Lakeside, 6:15 a.m.

- Evans, 6:30 a.m.

- Butler, 7 a.m.

- Washington County, 7 a.m.

- Hephzibah, 8 a.m.

- Richmond Academy, 8 a.m.

- Glascock County, 9 a.m.

- Burke County, 5 p.m.

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