If the drills weren’t completed to the coaches’ satisfaction, helmet-wearing North Augusta football players dropped to the ground and did pushups. They then got up and returned to the drill.
High school football is back on both sides of the Savannah River in advance of the 2014 season.
For South Carolina High School League teams Friday, players could practice in helmets. After two days, players can add shoulder pads. On the fifth day, full gear is permitted.
As for Georgia High School Association members, Friday marked the first day possible for practice in full pads. Players had to first finish five conditioning practices, which began July 25, before beginning full-gear practice.
Over at North Augusta, first-year head coach Brian Thomas made his way around the practice field, growling constructive criticisms and also offering encouragement. Thomas was previously the head coach at Northern Guilford in North Carolina.
“I’m just excited,” he said. “It’s finally here — it’s time. The grass is growing, it smells good, and it’s time to get going.”
Across the river at Josey, Raleigh Roundtree oversaw practice. In his second year as head coach, the former NFL player is hoping the Eagles rebound from their winless 2013 season. Before Friday, Roundtree said his group had been mostly in walkthroughs. Now the hitting could finally begin.
His players were ready.
“We built up to this point with the hard work during the summer,” Josey senior wide receiver/defensive back Ennasshia Gardner said. “It was a long course, so it’s great finally getting to pads.”
Teams that elected to practice in the morning saw cloudy skies with temperatures in the 70s. The pleasant weather wasn’t lost on many just a few weeks from the start of the regular season.
“Y’all lying to me!” Thomas joked to his assistants about the unusually cooler August weather.
“Just wait. Just wait,” an assistant responded.