Down, set, hike

Published 10:08 pm Saturday, August 15, 2009

Although all four high school football teams in Suffolk were busy throughout the summer with passing leagues, camps, workouts and weight rooms, the season is now underway as official practices started early last week.

Despite the heat and humidity early in the week, then the constant rain storms later in the week, the teams worked around the weather as best they could.

King’s Fork practiced later in the evening on Monday to avoid the worst of the heat index. On Friday, Nansemond-Suffolk, under first-year head coach Kevin Allen, was working out in the gym and the weight room until a break in the heaviest of the rain allowed some time outside in only moderate rain. In Norfolk, a four-team jamboree, including Lakeland, went on as planned playing through the conditions. On Saturday morning, Nansemond River was working in the gym and weight room as monsoon-level rain came down on North Suffolk.

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“I’m very encouraged, very pleased, even though the last couple days have been tough between the heat and the storms,” said Nansemond River head coach Tracey Parker on Thursday afternoon.

“The kids have handled it really well, so we’ve really had no problem. We were out late one day and another day we had to come in early. Normally those things can throw off a team’s focus,” said Parker, who’s entering his third season coaching the Warriors.

NR is working toward its first scrimmage coming up on Thursday at Bayside. The Warriors will then host Heritage next Thursday, Aug. 27, at 6 p.m. in another scrimmage.

Most of the Warriors are returning players for Parker, but there are some players who are out with the team for the first time with these first practices.

“When we start official practices, we go back and teach the fundamentals and, in some ways, start from scratch. Some kids are out here for the first time, so it’s not to our advantage to pass on the fundamental things,” said Parker.

“It’s good anyway to teach these things again as a refresher for the older kids and it’s a good beginning for the new kids,” said Parker.

Glenwood Ferebee is starting his second season coaching Lakeland and feels this preseason is largely a continuation of what he put in place last year.

“We’re further along, definitely. We’re returning most of our guys, so that helps out a lot,” said Ferebee on Friday at the scrimmage in Norfolk.

Staying healthy has been a top priority through practices and the first chance to go up against an opponent, said Ferebee.

Ferebee had only certain plays, on both sides of the ball, he wanted to see on Friday evening. His defense, for instance, didn’t blitz at all during the scrimmaging.

At Nansemond-Suffolk Academy, one of Ferebee’s assistants from last season is the Saints’ new head coach. Allen is encouraged by what he’s seen with the Saints so far.

“I believe the guys are responding to my direction and my enthusiasm,” said Allen. “They’ve been working hard and making it pretty easy on me.”

Allen is pleased to see the team’s seniors “taking a strong leadership role.”

“You need that if you’re going to have a winning program,” said Allen.

“It goes the other way too. I’ve been in programs when no one steps up as leaders and it’s a long season,” said Allen.

NSA hosts Poquoson in a scrimmage on Friday at 6 p.m.

King’s Fork will have its first competitive action of the season on Friday as well. The Bulldogs are hosting a four-team jamboree, starting at 5 p.m. with Bethel, Matoaca and Denbigh as guests.