Prep football season officially kicks off Saturday|Southside, Williamston holding midnight practices

Published 10:08 am Friday, July 31, 2009

Sports Editor

High school football season officially kicks off Saturday.
That’s the first day teams can hold official organized team activities. The first three days are generally used for conditioning drills. Players are permitted to put on shoulder pads Wednesday, while the first official day for hitting is Aug. 8.
Regular season games begin Aug. 21.
Southside and Williamston are getting a jump on things with football’s version of Midnight Madness. The remainder of the teams will be getting a start on things early Saturday morning.
Coach Sport Sawyer’s Pam Pack squad, which competes in the Class 3-A Coastal Conference, will begin practice at 8 a.m. Saturday. They’ll start practice at 5 p.m. next week.
“We’ll continue putting in our offense and defense and get the guys aligned right,” Sawyer said. “Until you start hitting, you don’t know what kind of football players you have.
“We’ve had a decent summer. Now it’s football time and we’ll see what kind of team we’re going to have.”
Sawyer said the team will hold a midnight practice the following week, beginning at approximately 9:30 p.m. Friday and going until 12:30 a.m.
Washington opens the season Aug. 21 at home against North Pitt.
Washington is joined in the Coastal Conference by D.H. Conley, Havelock, South Central, West Carteret, West Craven, White Oak and Jacksonville.
Five area teams will be competing in the eight-team, Class 1-A Four Rivers Conference this year. Southside, Northside, Williamston, Roanoke and Plymouth will be joined by Manteo, Camden and Perquimans.
Coach David Hines and his Seahawks will hit the field at midnight and practice until 1:30 a.m. Southside will practice from 8 to 10 a.m. early next week.
“We are going in the morning to make sure of two things,“ Hines said. “We miss the heat of the day and we make sure we have the option of going at night if we have bad weather in the morning, but a clear afternoon.”
Hines will be keeping his eye on a few things over the first few practices.
“During these first few days we are working on continuing to get these guys in better shape, and let their bodies become acclimated to the heat and humidity even better,” he said. “Also, we are using these days of practice to complete positional battles. By the day we hit, we want to have the majority of the starting positions filled.
“The first few days of practice are also where you set the tone for the season. If we want to have a successful season, we need to have a successful first week of practice.”
Southside opens the season Aug. 21 at home against North Duplin.
Coach Keith Boyd and his Panthers will hold their first practice at 9 a.m. Saturday. Northside will go from 6 to 8:30 p.m. during the week.
“We’re hoping to get more people out there,” Boyd said. “We want to know if we’ll have a varsity or junior varsity as well.”
Boyd was pleased with how his team’s minicamp went earlier this week.
“There are smiles on peoples’ faces, even if it’s 90 or 95 degrees,” he said. “A lot of times, we haven’t had that here. Right now we’re seeing nothing but positives, and that’s encouraging. Right now, we like what we see.”
Northside kicks off the season Aug. 21 at Mattamuskeet.
Coach Asim McGill and his Tigers will get to work right away, as they’ll head out to the field at midnight. Williamston will begin practice at 6 p.m. early next week.
“The first couple days we want to get the kids acclimated to football and the weather,” McGill said. “We want to get them in the right positions.
“Summer has been pretty good. We went to a minicamp phase and participation was very good.”
The Tigers, last year’s 1-A state runners-up, lost talent off last year’s team, including WDN Offensive Player of the Year Emery Griggs, but McGill likes what he has returning.
“We lost some pretty good players, but we have a good nucleus returning,” he said. “We’re hoping last year’s success will carry over and give them some confidence.”
The Tigers open the season Aug. 21 at home against Ayden-Grifton.
Coach Robert Cody and his Vikings will hold a light workout Saturday morning. The team will gather for practices beginning at 5 p.m. Monday.
“We want to make sure we’re in condition,” Cody said. “If we can do that over the first couple weeks, that will be the key. We also want to get them in the right positions.”
The veteran coach said summer workouts went well.
“The attitude was good,” Cody said. “We had about 55 out for our last minicamp.”
Plymouth kicks off the season Aug. 21 at home against Farmville Central.
Coach Brian Paschal and his Redskins were still trying to determine when they would conduct their first practice. The team will begin practice at 6 p.m. starting Monday.
“Our program took a step back last year,” Paschal said. “We weren’t very competitive in a number of games.
“We have to start at the beginning and instill that winning attitude. I think that’s the biggest thing. We have to do what we did the eight years prior to that.”
Paschal is hoping his younger players can step up this year.
“We have some talented kids, but our school is just so small,” he said. “We have only 150 males in the school. We’ll need a lot of younger guys to contribute.”
Roanoke plays its season opener Aug. 28 at North Pitt.
Four area teams comprise the five-team, 1-A Tideland Conference. Jamesville, Creswell, Columbia and Mattamuskeet are joined by Cape Hatteras.
Coach Richie Ange and his Bullets will hit the field at 9 a.m. Saturday. The team will hold practices starting at 6 p.m. Monday.
“We’ve been working out over the summer,” Ange said. “On the first couple days we want to see who is coming out. We have a pretty good idea.
“We have some things to find out with regards to our backfield, offensively and defensively.”
Jamesville kicks off the season Aug. 28 at Plymouth.
Coach Wayne Rodgers and his Tigers will head to the field at 7 a.m. Saturday. Creswell will begin practicing at 5 p.m. Monday.
“We’ll be trying to get timing and continuity down,” Rodgers said about the first couple days of practice. “Hopefully, we’ll have everybody that plans to be there.
“We want to work on the little things. That’s our focus this year.”
Creswell had a solid run last year, bowing out of the playoffs with a loss to Williamston.
“We’re looking to pick up where we left off,” Rodgers said. “I think we can replace the talent. Won’t have the experience, but I think we have potential.”
Creswell opens the season Aug. 28 at home against Southside.
Coach Rashawn Spencer and his Wildcats will begin practice at 7 a.m. Saturday. The team will practice from 7 to 9 a.m. early next week.
“The first couple days we’ll be trying to install some new techniques on offense,” Spencer said. “We’ll teach the basics and start fresh with the younger guys coming in. We’re hoping for a lot more from the younger guys this year.
“We want to build on getting the ball in the end zone more. Defensively, we can play with anybody. We just need to get the ball in the end zone more.”
The Wildcats will host a conference jamboree Aug. 14 at 5 p.m. Creswell, Mattamuskeet and Cape Hatteras have signed up to compete in the event.
Columbia kicks off the season Aug. 21 at home against Harrells Christian.
Coach Rick Perry and his Lakers will head to the field at 8 a.m. Saturday. Perry is planning to have his team practice from 8 to 10 a.m. next week.
“The first couple days we’ll be trying to get as many players out as possible,” Perry said. “The last couple years we’ve been playing with 13 to 17 players. We lost 10 seniors last year.”
With those big losses, Perry is anticipating a young squad.
“We’re expecting our team to be made up of freshmen and have a few upper classmen,” he said. “The first couple days we’ll be working on a lot on fundamentals.”
The Lakers begin the season Aug. 21 at home against Northside.