High school football might seem to be chaos on the field each Friday night, but game plans being executed by teams are the result of months of meticulous planning and practicing for perfect execution.
Coaches aim to plan for every contingency that can pop up in a game and never want their teams unprepared.
Needless to say, a disruption in the day-to-day order of things can be pretty unnerving for programs with practices scheduled down to the minute.
All four Bulloch County teams must face that scenario for one week each season. This is that time for Statesboro, Bulloch Academy, Portal and Southeast Bulloch as all schools are out of session for fall break.
“I like routine and I like order,” SEB coach Pat Collins said. “This is definitely a challenge. Fall break changes the way in which we prepare, but it can’t change the fact that we’re preparing for a big game.”
Collins had his Jackets on the practice field during the morning on Monday and Tuesday. He hoped that it would encourage his players to stay on a good sleep schedule since no classes would have had them waking up early otherwise.
The Jackets return to afternoon practices today in preparation for their region 1-AAA showdown against Pierce County on Friday.
Logistics are the issue over in Portal.
Only one of David NeSmith’s assistant coaches is a full-time teacher, causing NeSmith to keep track of his players on break while also sticking to a schedule that works for his staff.
“We have a bunch of coaches who are either in college classes or at work,” NeSmith said. “Since our players are out of school, we’ve also had to coordinate rides for some guys to make sure they get to practice.
“It’s a little bit of a strain on me, but it’s not all bad. We’re midway through the season and hopefully having the mornings off will provide some relaxation for our guys.”
While the main goal for all teams is to prepare for the next game, coaches from area teams all acknowledged a common concern for fall break.
Discipline is important for executing a game plan on Friday nights. It’s even more important when dozens of high schoolers have a week with plenty of down time.
Both Portal and Statesboro have been managing their players for two weeks now. Each school dealt with the festivities of homecoming last week and now have their players home for the break.
“We make it very clear what we expect from our players,” SHS coach Steve Pennington said last week, addressing conduct requirements for both homecoming activities and the impending fall break. “It’s OK to have fun, but we hope that our players have the maturity to know how to conduct themselves.
“We want to have our fun on the field, where everyone can see it and celebrate it.”
All four teams face pivotal games this week.
Statesboro and Bulloch Academy each open up region play while SEB tries to move one step closer to reaching the postseason. Portal will try to carry the momentum of its first win last week into a matchup against region rival Claxton.
Fall break is a time for fun and relaxation — even for football players.
What really matters is whether the players can get through the disruption of the normal flow of things and come out the other side with the focus and preparation to succeed on Friday night.
Mike Anthony may be reached at (912) 489-9404.
Fall break can be a burden on teams