Hot days on the gridironPublished 9:13pm Saturday, August 3, 2013
Two Suffolk schools begin football practices
With a slight breeze in their favor, the football teams for Lakeland High School and Nansemond River High School took on their first official day of practice for the 2013 fall season on Thursday.
Virginia often brings a unique challenge in the summer months via the heat and humidity that affects people in regular clothing, to say nothing of those required to keep on a football helmet.
New rules instituted last year allowing coaches to work with players year-round have helped maintain conditioning, so Aug. 1 was not as grueling as it might have been.
“We spent a lot of time in the heat,” Warriors head coach Tracey Parker said.
Both Parker and new Lakeland High School head coach Bryan Potts said they held sessions with their players in the summer, choosing a time around the hottest point of the day to help prepare them.
Parker said he could see the benefits from that plan on Thursday.
“They’re not huffing and puffing, because we’ve done a lot of conditioning,” he said.
It allowed the day to be more of a review day regarding the team’s defensive game plan.
Nansemond River had about 40-45 kids out for the varsity team, and though many had been practicing during the summer, offensive coordinator Jason Robinson underlined what made Thursday special for them.
“It’s just a little bit more focused than during the summer,” he said. “It’s the first day that kids can see the big picture.”
Parker said, “Right now, we’re looking to make sure, first of all, that they’re understanding what we’re doing.”
He said the coaches are looking for kids who are free from mental mistakes.
“If you’re not mentally attuned right now, we’re going to have a big problem,” he said.
Though Parker was able to focus on teaching game plans, conditioning was still a part of the day. Potential players lined a nearby fence, watching because some of them had not passed the conditioning test.
Some were close, but Parker said, “Close only counts with grenades and horseshoes.”
Over at Lakeland’s practice field, coach Potts planned to run his players through the team defense and do individual drills, but he was concerned about the number of players failing the conditioning test.
The test at Lakeland is composed of four 300-yard runs, separated by 30-second breaks. Players must complete each 300-yard trip in times ranging from 55 seconds to 1:12, based on the position played.
“Until we get about 95-percent passing rate on the conditioning test, we’ll do it every day,” Potts said.
He said Lakeland has the lowest enrollment in Suffolk and the Southeastern District. This brings certain realities with it that likely all the Suffolk schools face to varying degrees.
“As far as a tryout and having cuts, we really don’t have to worry about that here,” he said. “If they want to be out here and that passion shows up, that desire shows up, then that’s where they’ll be.”
Wide receivers coach Clint Wright described the kind of player that would end up being on the team.
“You’ve got to really want to play football,” he said. “It’s not something that you wake up and you just decide to do. You’ve got to have a love for the game.
In most cases, if the love and drive are absent, Wright said, “the conditioning, the heat, the physical nature of the game of football, that’s what will make a kid decide, ‘Hey, you know, this game is just not for me.’”
Potts ultimately expects 55 kids to come out for the varsity team, though Thursday yielded about 40.
Coaches preach hydration to the kids and being smart about the elements, but Cavalier rising junior Miles Goodman, who is currently placed at quarterback, cited another thing that helps him push through the conditioning and heat of August.
“Every time I do something, I think of not letting somebody take my spot, and I just get through it,” he said.
King’s Fork High School and Nansemond-Suffolk Academy hit the fields on Monday.