Georgia high schools are one step closer to football season as teams enter the conditioning phase of practice on Thursday, marking the official beginning of fall practices.
Though teams maintain an offseason program in which they lift weights and do non-contact drills, the Georgia High School Association requires that teams must complete five days of conditioning before putting on pads. Aug. 1 is the first day teams can move to full-contact practices.
Spencer High coach Calvin Arnold said that, while the offseason workouts are enlightening and coaches can gain a lot of insight about their teams, they won’t fully know what they have until they put the pads on.
“During the spring, I got a good feeling of what kind of team we were going to be,” Arnold said. “But for the most part, once you get the pads on, you get a better definition of what we’re going to be as a team.”
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One team most people know what to expect from is Carver, which has won seven consecutive region championships. Once again, Carver brings back plenty of talent on the field. On the sidelines, it is breaking in a new head coach, Joe Kegler, after the departure of former coach Dell McGee.
Kegler said on Tuesday that the potential was there for his team, but that what it does between now and its first game on Aug. 30 will determine a lot.
“These guys have really put a lot into it since the spring,” he said. “We’ve still got a long way to go, though.”
There are plenty of other teams around the area that are counting down the days until the start of the season. Hardaway coach Jeff Battles said in the spring he had high hopes for a team that brings back plenty of talent. Kendrick enters the season trying to make the playoffs in back-to-back years for the first time since 1999. Harris County is preparing for its region title defense.
On the other side of the river, Alabama practices can begin on Aug. 5. Central, another perennial contender, will put the pads on for the first time on Aug. 8.
David Mitchell, 706-571-8571; Follow David on Twitter @leprepsports.