Jermaine Dorsey glanced at the cloudy sky, felt the drizzle of raindrops and heard the booming claps of thunder.
Then, he declared it was a gorgeous day.
That's what the first day of football practice will do to you. It'll make a team that went 0-10 last year believe it can make a run at a state title. It'll make a mediocre running back think he can dash his way to a college scholarship. It'll make a nasty day seem perfect.
For Dorsey, a senior defensive tackle, Monday was that day. Dorsey, along with the rest of his Hephzibah teammates and the entire state of Georgia, began football practice Monday (South Carolina schools begin Aug. 2), and after months of lifting weights and conditioning, it couldn't have come any sooner.
And the weather couldn't have been more magnificent.
"This is beautiful weather," Dorsey said as rain dripped off his red helmet. "It's a blessing to have weather like this."
Senior fullback/defensive end Ralph Gunter said he felt the same way. Especially after reminiscing about the weather from a year ago.
"It's been a pretty good first day," Gunter said. "This is the best first day I've had in a long time. Last year, it was like 97 degrees out here."
Still, the two players admitted, even a hot day would have been welcome. Both were ready to get out of the weight room and onto the field - even if they couldn't put on the pads yet.
After all, the Rebels, who were 6-5 last season, made the playoffs for the first time in school history last season. And although they lost 25 seniors from that squad, they're eager to prove they can do it again.
"We're just ready to play," said Dorsey, one of eight seniors on this year's team. "I'm ready to go out there and make a name for myself."
According to Rebels first-year coach Todd Booker, the entire squad is up to that challenge.
"We had a good spring practice, and that carried over into summer workouts," said Booker, who was Hephzibah's defensive coordinator the past two seasons but moved to the head position when Bill Navas left for Jefferson. "We're all excited to be out here."
Gunner, however, isn't satisfied. Georgia schools don't kick off their seasons until Aug. 30 - some South Carolina teams begin Aug. 23 - so Gunner is waiting for the next best thing.
"You know," Gunner said, "two-a-day (practices) begin next week."
Reach Josh Katzowitz at (706) 823-3216 or email@example.com
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