It’s one thing to run in the heat. It’s quite another to put on shoulder pads, pull a helmet over your sweaty head, buckle that chinstrap, then get to the business of tactical collisions.
Madison County’s football team opened its fall practice Monday, Aug. 1. Of course, “fall” is weeks away. It’s still blazing hot. And as the Raiders worked on pass routes and blocking fundamentals, coaches frequently called for breaks, letting players get rehydrated in the upper 90-degree heat.
“On the one hand, the clock is ticking; you’ve only got a certain number of days to get ready for the first game,” said Madison County head coach Randell Owens. “But on the other hand you’ve got to be careful. You don’t want to send anyone to the hospital.”
Owens said there were clear differences Monday between those who exerted themselves over the summer and those who didn’t.
“We don’t have the level of conditioning we’d like yet,” said Owens. “We’ve got some kids who’ve paid the price and some who haven’t.”
The coach said players these days aren’t as used to heat as players in the past, who spent more free time outdoors.
“There’s a different culture now than there was back then,” said Owens. “There wasn’t A/C like there is now. You only had three channels on the television and they were black and white. And I didn’t want to sit inside watching soap operas with my mother.”
Owens said there are 99 players on his current roster, with about 80-something players showing up Monday.
“There were some players missing,” said Owens. “The roster is a living organism; we’re growing cells and shedding cells daily.”