The calendar turn to Aug. 1 signals the official start of high school football practice throughout Tallapoosa County.
Although Alexander City students don’t head back to class until Aug. 8, the Benjamin Russell High Wildcats start hitting the field for practice Monday afternoon.
“We’re going 4 o’clock every evening this week except Thursday when we start at 3:15 p.m.,” Wildcats head football coach Danny Horn said. “Once we’re in school, we’ll start practice after school at 3:30.”
The team’s practices will be gradual, starting off in shorts and helmets and working their way up to full gear.
“Friday they’ll be in full pads,” Horn said.
Tallapoosa County schools head back to class Thursday. But the football teams also kick off their practices Monday.
At Horseshoe Bend, this week will have a varied schedule. The Generals’ first practice of the week is bright and early, set for 6:30-8:30 a.m. Then Tuesday’s practice starts at 3:30 p.m.
“We start school after that,” Horseshoe Bend head football coach Jason Franklin said.
Once school starts, the Generals practice after school for about two hours.
The Reeltown High football team will practice 4-5:30 p.m. Monday through Wednesday.
“Once we get into the thick of things with school, we’ll practice every day from 4-6 p.m.,” Rebels head football coach Matt Johnson said.
Dadeville High will begin practice at 5 p.m. each day, starting Monday.
At Central Coosa High, practice will start at 4 p.m. every day beginning Monday.
The only school not starting football practice Monday is Lyman Ward. Under the leadership of new head coach Keith Elliott, the team will practice each day 4-5:30 p.m. beginning Aug. 22.
Although practice has yet to officially begin, area football programs have spent the summer conditioning for the upcoming season. However, with daytime temperatures sometimes soaring into the triple digits, coaches have had to keep hydration a high priority.
“You’ve got to educate your kids,” Horn said. “They can’t wait until they get to conditioning to hydrate.”
“You’ve got to start that 24 hours beforehand,” he said. “You’re going to lose a lot of fluids during practice so you’ve got to be hydrated before you get on the field.”
The coaches are trained to keep watch on the athletes’ health and to make sure they continue to drink fluids while on the field.
“We take plenty of water breaks,” Franklin said.
At BRHS, that also includes putting the athletes on the scale.
“We weigh our linemen,” Horn said. “You can lose 7-8 pounds in one practice.”
At Reeltown that precaution includes having certified trainer Chad Abrams keep a close watch on the athletes’ condition.
“He observes our kids every day,” Johnson said.
The Rebels also limited conditioning to three days a week after 5 p.m.
“We have a lot of kids that work,” Johnson said. “We also wanted to give our kids time just to be kids.”
During summer conditioning Central Coosa used the clock to overcome the heat.
“We came in early in the morning,” Central Coosa head football coach Barry Simmons said. “The heat wasn’t bothering us as much early in the day.”