A week’s worth of full practice has given Rome High head football coach John Reid some food for thought about how his players are responding.
He understands the obstacles that have to be overcome and so far Reid is pleased with what he’s seen, but the Wolves have some big tests right out of the gate, and their attitude in practice is going to play a big part in helping them be successful.
“We’re replacing a lot of guys and we’re seeing some kids step up and get better fundamentally,” Reid said Wednesday. “It’s hard to tell really where you’re at until you see your kids play. And we’re trying to stay ahead of the curve as far as what we see on film and what we need to correct.”
The transition from summer workouts — when players arrived around 8 a.m. and were done by lunch — to the traditional after-school practices can be rough, especially in a Rome practice that has players split off into one group or another, and sometimes between two at the same time.
“Our practices are challenging. Our kids don’t get to stand around,” Reid said. “So we’re trying to get energy all the way through to the end. And that can be a little challenging when it’s 90 degrees.”
A byproduct of Rome’s active practices is that more players get a better idea of what everyone else’s role on the team is and how they can work together as a singular unit, an aspect that Reid said their players do well.
“We play a ton of kids and they get a ton of reps at practice. Everybody gets to play their spot, everybody gets a coach to report to and nobody is stuck standing around holding dummies,” Reid said. “That’s the part that we’re trying to get through the kids’ minds right now. With that in mind, you’ve got to take care of yourself, rest, eat properly … because it’s going to be a challenge to get through it.”
The early part of the season is a time many high school football teams get their non-region schedule out of the way and get a better idea of what kind of team they are going to be. It’s a few weeks where a lot of things can be corrected.
However, Rome plays a highly-talented Class 7A Marietta team and Region 7-5A foe Kell in those first few weeks of the season.
“It will be a big test for us and a good one,” Reid said.
Rome will open the season for the second year in a row as part of the Corky Kell Classic. The Wolves will take on Marietta at Barron Stadium on Aug. 22 following the game between Calhoun and Ridgeland, which is scheduled to start at 5:30 p.m. Kell then comes to town in Week 4 for Rome’s third game of the season.
There will be some warm-ups for the Wolves, beginning Friday evening when the Rome football program hosts its fifth annual Soap Game at Barron Stadium. The preseason will wrap up Aug. 16 with Rome hosting New Manchester in a scrimmage.
“It’s a lot to ask of a kid to practice all week with nothing to kind of shoot for as a goal at the end. So we try to get the soap game in to give them a chance to get out there to the stadium, and to see all our other kids get out there,” Reid said.
Rome Middle School, freshman and junior varsity football players will all scrimmage during the Soap Game beginning at 5 p.m. Admission is either a can of Gatorade, powdered Gatorade drink mix or a bottle of liquid laundry soap, depending on the grade of the player.
Tickets for the Corky Kell Classic will also go on sell at the Soap Game, with the Barron Stadium box office then open from noon to 2 p.m. each weekday leading up to the game. Tickets are $12 in advance and $17 at the gate the day of the game. Each ticket covers admission to both Aug. 22 contests.