E.A. Sports Today

Prep teams eager to start

Summer conditioning is over, it’s time for the real work toward the season to begin.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

Summer conditioning is over, 7-on-7s are now just a fun memory. School is about to start and that means it’s time for the real work toward the season to begin.

High school football teams around the state officially unlock the gates for practice Monday and like opening day in any sport they all can’t wait to get going.

“After summer workouts, you’re ready to start practicing,” Alexandria coach Frank Tucker said. “After summer workouts start to get old it’s time to get out there and do the things we’ve been practicing on.”

At Alexandria, the Valley Cubs will be looking to bounce back from their first losing season since 2002 and only their third since 1981. The last time they finished below .500, they won 11 games or more each of the next four years.

For that turnaround to start this year, the Cubs will need some stars to emerge from a roster that would seem to have an ample number of candidates.

“This year there’s a more true sense of team than I’ve ever been around,” Tucker said. “We don’t have a stud we can rely on, so for us to be successful we have to have all 11 doing the best they can. There’s really no one person who’s going to be our star, but it could end up being a different one each week.”

When Oxford hits the field at 3 p.m., the Yellow Jackets will be learning about life without Roc Thomas, the five-star Mr. Football who took his talents to Auburn.

“How are we going to win without him; I guess we’ll have to find out,” Oxford coach Ryan Herring said with a hint of sarcasm. “You have very few high school teams in each class who are going to be loaded every year. I’d like to have 22 seniors returning, been state runners-up last year and have them all back, but we’re going to have a lot of new faces. I can’t wait to see how they play. It’s going to be fun.”

Speaking of new faces, Ohatchee and White Plains will be opening camp with new head coaches. Larry Strain takes over at White Plains, where the Wildcats haven’t made a playoff appearance in 20 years, and Scott Martin takes over at Ohatchee, where the Indians haven’t had a winning season since 2003.

Saks, meanwhile, will be taking its first steps toward going just a little farther than it did a year ago when it made the state semifinals. In the Wildcats’ camp it’ll be all about pace of play.

“We just want to establish the tempo we’re going to practice at,” Saks coach Jonathan Miller said. “We move quickly. Monday will probably be a little chaotic in that regard, but we want to reinforce how we want to practice.

“It won’t be like we want it Monday, but we’re going to practice like it.”

While most county teams are staying close to home to start their preparations for the season, some prefer to get away from it all.

Donoho’s team packed up the trailer and headed off to a week-long camp in Pisgah, where bonding and brainwork will be the key elements. The Falcons are expected to be back on campus later in the week.

Head coach Shannon Felder has taking his teams to remote locations since 2002 and been doing it with the Falcons since 2004.

“It’s a chance to have the kids away from campus,” Felder said. “It’s a lot of learning, a lot of classroom type stuff, boys taking a lot of notes and we basically go over everything we do from A to Z in every aspect of the game.

“It’s really informative. It’s not as much on-the-field stuff nowadays because of the restrictions on practice, so there’s a lot of classroom stuff and a lot more testing. We feel like one day there would take them about three days here.”

Al Muskewitz is Content Editor/Senior Writer of East Alabama Sports Today. He can be reached at musky@wrightmediacorp.com and followed on Twitter @easportstoday1.



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