Area high school football teams had their first chance to strap on full pads and go at it Wednesday as the Georgia High School Association used August 1 as its official start for unrestricted practice.
Locally, Statesboro High and Portal both had to seek shelter quickly due to inclement weather, while the Southeast Bulloch Yellow Jackets were able to mostly avoid the storms that were hovering around the middle and western parts of Bulloch County.
“We are excited about finally getting a chance to get out there and have no restrictions,” said Southeast Bulloch first hear head coach Barrett Davis. “We had a couple padded camps this summer to get a chance to see the kids, but we are excited about the direction Southeast Bulloch football is headed, and we are ready to get to work.”
Davis will be the Yellow Jackets’ third head coach in three years, but returns a few familiar names on his coaching staff, and 19 seniors that should help in the transition.
“Jeremy Gant is back, and will be joining coach Chris Pye and Brandon Peterson in running our offense, while I will be heading up the defense,” Davis said. “We have some talented seniors we will be counting on for leadership as well. They got a chance to see what it takes to win a state playoff game last year, and hopefully they are hungry to break through with a win this season.”
For the Statesboro Blue Devils, they had to spend most of Wednesday’s practice indoors, but head coach Jeff Kaiser feels the Blue Devils got plenty of work in over the summer, and has always felt the first day of school can be more of a distraction when combined with the first day of full pads.
“Typically the first day of school practice is the most challenging day of practice all season,” Kaiser said. “The good thing is our kids already lifted weights today and conditioned, so with the weather forcing us indoors, it’s not as big a problem as missing a normal day on the field.”
Like the Yellow Jackets, the Blue Devils participated in some padded camps over the summer, and coach Kaiser has been pleased with the participation.
“It’s been a couple weeks since we have been in pads so we are looking forward to getting out there and hitting, but we had about ninety percent turnout during the summer which was huge,” Kaiser said. “The ten percent that missed were mainly freshmen, who are still getting their feet wet and don’t understand what is expected from them, but that will come.”
“There’s no position so far that is written in stone,” Kaiser said. “That’s another reason we are anxious to get out there in full pads and see who can hold up physically, and find out who we can depend on.”
Bulloch Academy doesn’t start school until next week, but they will kick off the season playing in the Erk Russell Classic August 18 at 10 am at Paulson Stadium. Statesboro High opens the season Aug. 24th at Greenbrier, Southeast Bulloch hosts Screven County on the 24th, and Portal is at Warren County Aug.17.