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Temps confirm popping of pads for prep football

Temps confirm popping of pads for prep football
By MIKE HUTCHENS
Messenger Sports Editor
Dangerously-high temperatures, triple-digit heat indexes and oppressive humidity levels mean just one thing.
It’s time to begin high school football practice.
Prep teams across Tennessee — including Obion County’s three entries — will deal with the sultry elements when they put on pads for the first time Monday.
That July 26 date is the earliest ever that high school teams have been allowed to practice in full-gear and is a by-product of most every team playing a Week 0 date.
A statewide heat policy mandated by the TSSAA that prohibits outside activities and full-contact work once the heat index reaches 95 degrees and will likely alter the schedules of most clubs if the recent heatwave continues, however.
There could be a slight break in the taxing elements, however, as forecasts for early next week are for a chance of rain on three consecutive days with temps in the high 80s.
Locally, Obion County’s trio of teams will begin preparations for their respective 2010 season openers in different fashion.
Reigning Class 1A state champion Union City will leave Sunday afternoon for four days of camp in Columbia — a preseason ritual under third-year head coach Darren Bowling.
The Tornadoes, who must replace 17 starters off last year’s state title team that stunned heavily-favored South Pittsburg 31-29 in the BlueCross Bowl, will practice several times a day and also have numerous chalk talk and weight-lifting sessions while they are away from home.
UC will conclude camp with a scrimmage on its way home at Wayne County — a team the locals beat in last year’s state semifinals — Thursday afternoon around 4.
Bowling said that while the multiple practice sessions and no distractions of camp more than three hours from home are important, a contingency plan is in place should the current heat issues continue next week.
“We’ve got a Plan B ready if the heat keeps us from getting on the field and doing the contact work we need to do,” the Twister coach insisted. “In that case, we’ll go to some early-morning and late-night practices when it’s cooler, and do some thermometer and boardwork during the middle part of the day.
“Losing as many key people as we did off last year’s team, we have to get as many reps as we can for the guys who are stepping in for them this year.”
Union City will scrimmage two more times following the session with Wayne County, Aug. 3 vs. Dresden, and Aug. 6 at home against McKenzie. The Tornadoes will play in the annual Huntingdon Jamboree for the second straight year, facing McKenzie in two quarters of play on Aug.13.
UC opens its ’10 campaign at Trigg County (Ky.) in Week 0 on Aug. 20.
Obion Central head coach Shawn Jackson and Kelly Spivey of South Fulton will not only have to work around the elements to plan their practices, but also teacher in-service at their respective schools.
That likely leaves evenings as the only times both teams will be able to practice.
Jackson, who orchestrated a remarkable turnaround at Troy last season when the Rebels went from a two-year winless streak to 6-5 and a spot in the state playoffs, said his troops will still get in six practices in full gear.
“We’ll go from 6 o’clock until 9 every night, and we’ll try to get in an early-morning workout, probably Thursday,” he said. “We really need two or three days of two-a-days in pads. We’ve had eight practices in shorts and helmets the last two weeks, but we need to get the pads on to really evaluate people.
“We start football so early here, and the heat is a big thing. It may be where we can’t even get on the field at 6 at night because of the heat index. We’re going to get in three-hour practices every day, though, no matter what time we start.”
The Rebels will scrimmage just once — that vs. perennial Class 5A power Henry County — at 6 p.m. Aug. 5 at Troy. OC will also play in the annual Covington Jamboree for the second straight year, Aug. 13, facing Tipton-Rosemark Academy.
A Saturday night (Aug. 21) Week 0 date vs. Fulton County will mark the Rebs’ opening game.
At South Fulton, third-year head coach Kelly Spivey will essentially have an extra week to prepare his team for its opener as the Red Devils won’t play until Week 1 (Aug. 27) vs. West Carroll.
Spivey will field a relatively young squad after piloting SF to a 6-6 finish last year that included a playoff win and says every practice is critical to the development of this year’s squad.
“We’re so inexperienced, we have to take advantage of every minute we can to both teach and get reps,” the coach said. “Because of the heat, we’ll probably save our heavy contact work until late in our practices and use the time when heat might be an issue to focus on teaching periods.”
Spivey said practices will be scheduled at 6 each night.
The Redmen will scrimmage at Bruceton Aug. 6 and vs. Dresden in the Ken-Tenn Jamboree at Fulton County a week later. SF will then participate in a second jamboree on Aug. 20 when it faces Middleton at Lexington.
Sports editor Mike Hutchens can be contacted by e-mail at mhutch@ucmessenger.com.
Published in The Messenger 7.23.10

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