Local high school football teams will take another step today toward the regular-season Friday nights on the football field.
Today marks the official end of summer conditioning and the beginning of the GHSA-required acclimation workouts — a five-day practice stint with the purpose of getting players acclimated to the summer heat and humidity before full-pads practice is allowed to start in about a week.
GHSA implemented the acclimation rule last year; it requires that players practice in no other equipment besides a helmet and mouthpiece and that practices last no longer than two hours, the five consecutive weekdays before Aug. 1.
Model head coach Gordon Powers said the start of the five-practice period will help kick start the Blue Devils’ season and get the players in the right mindset for the upcoming practices.
“We’re glad to get into practice mode other than lifting weights and doing conditioning and agility and running and all the things we do now.
“Now we’ll start focusing on actual football and the fundamentals and we’ll start getting our system installed.
“Now we feel like we can say it’s football season,” he added.
Teams are not required to start their acclimation days today, but five acclimation practices must take place before regular practice can begin.
For example, the Darlington Tigers – who start school a little later than the other local teams on August 18 – will start their acclimation practices on Monday.
“We’ve been very excited about the summer in general,” said Darlington head football coach Tommy Atha.
“The kids worked extra hard,” he added, “and we had great participation in the off-season.”
Both Atha and Powers added that although the acclimation rule is a valid safety precaution, most teams have been bearing the heat and humidity during summer workouts since the end of the school year.
“I feel like we’re prepared from the summer. Our summer workouts have prepared us well, because we’ve been in the heat, so I feel like we’re already acclimated,” said Powers.
“I think most people that run their programs and conditioning in the off-season are already mostly ready,” said Atha. “(The acclimation rule) is just a safety net to make sure kids who haven’t been working in the summer have a chance to acclimate.
“I think the kids are ready to get on through and get on the equipment and get to work.”