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Football teams complete third week

By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY

Daily News

Week three is in the books.

On June 8, the go-ahead was given for high-school football teams in Georgia to begin summer conditioning after a three-month break because of the coronavirus pandemic.

At the start of summer workouts, teams were prohibited from using footballs, but that changed last week.

Callaway, LaGrange and Troup were permitted to bring the footballs out of storage and begin working on plays, and the teams took advantage of that change.

“It’s been a really smooth transition,” said Matt Napier, LaGrange’s first-year head coach. “We’ve had to limit our groups just like normal, but to actually get the ball in play, and to be able to install some offense and see the kids run around and catch, and run some of the plays we’ve been doing without a football, to do it out on the field, it’s exciting. It’s another step in this process we’re going through, and it’s been a good one for us. It’s been working really well, and it’s exciting to see those guys get out and do that.”

The Callaway Cavaliers also enjoyed putting the footballs in play as they took another step toward preparing for a season that is supposed to begin in August.

“It’s been a good week,” Callaway head coach Pete Wiggins said. “Being able to see the guys back on the field is very promising, and they’re excited to get these reps.”

At Troup, the players remained mostly inside the indoor practice facility, although they did spend some time on the practice field.

“We’re still in the initial stage, so we’re not to the point right now that it’s mandatory that we get in the heat,” Troup head coach Tanner Glisson said. “You get outside, and there are days where it’s so hot that it becomes counter-productive.”

With conditioning in mind, Napier felt it was a positive that teams had to wait two weeks before the second phase of summer workouts began.

Like other teams, LaGrange used the first two weeks of summer workouts to work on the physical conditioning of the players.

“It aligns with what the GHSA does before you have pads, the acclimation period. It aligns a lot like that,” Napier said. “Those kids have spent a couple of weeks conditioning and working on the strength part of it, and then you get out there. They definitely would have been really struggling if they didn’t have that conditioning part. It’s a gradual breaking them in, and I think that’s what (the GHSA) was thinking when they did this.”

After three weeks of work, Callaway, LaGrange and Troup will all take some time off for the Georgia High School Association-mandated dead week.

Teams are prohibited from holding any activities the week of July 4th, which means the next time the players and coaches will be together will be on July 6.

If everything goes on as scheduled, Callaway, LaGrange and Troup will each play preseason games on Aug. 7, with the regular season set to begin on Aug. 21.

With the season drawing closer, every day of work is incredibly valuable, especially in light of all the time the teams had to take off.

“I kind of hate that we’re about to go home for a week,” Glisson said. “We feel like we’ve been at home for three months, but the way it falls is the way it falls.”

Wiggins, who is heading into his 16th season as Callaway’s head coach, is hopeful that entering the second phase of summer conditioning is an indicator that things will continue to progress as the summer goes along.

“It’s been a different feel (using footballs), so hopefully things will continue to go well, and it’ll open up more in July,” Wiggins said.

At some point if teams are going to play football in August the players will need to put the pads on and start hitting, and that’s something Napier is looking forward to.

“You really find out what kind of football player they truly are when they get those pads on, and you see what they can do,” Napier said.