Football teams in preseason

The Hazlehurst Indians practice in the late afternoon, fighting the heat and dust, while getting into playing shape.

A morning practice session for Copiah Academy helps knock the rust off the players and keeps them away from the excessive heat.

BY BRADLEY CROW

Football practice throughout the county has started for the 2010 year and the biggest concern is not middle linebackers and great quarterbacks as the season kicks off.

The major concern is the sweltering Mississippi heat and its above 100 degree temperatures and heat indexes closing in on 120 degrees.  This can cause a myriad of problems for squads if the coaches and players are not prepared for the ridiculous heat.  The Courier looks at two programs in the county and how they will be combating this concern.

The Hazlehurst Indians and head coach Todd McDaniel welcomed 56 to preseason camp this past week and his regimen is pretty serious when it comes to safety and the heat.

“Seriously, I love football,” stated McDaniel, “but if something happened to one of my boys because of heat, I just don’t think I could coach anymore.”

That mindset allows the Indians, coming off a 7-4 2009 campaign, to be proactive when it comes to heat.  The Indians take a mandatory water break every 15 minutes in addition to breaking down halfway through practice and taking an ice water bath to cool off body temperatures.  Additionally, the coaches always have water on hand for any moment of practice a kid needs hydration.  McDaniel and his staff have also cut down practice time from 2 ½ hours to 1 hour and 45 minutes because of the seriousness of this issue.

Down south, the Wesson Cobras have a similar philosophy when it comes to the heat.  Head Coach Tommy Clopton and his staff believe that it doesn’t begin when the kids show up for practice.

“We preach to our kids that hydration doesn’t start at practice, it starts at home before practice,” commented Clopton who was adamant that his kids eat well and get plenty of liquids before showing up ready to practice.

The Cobras, coming off an 8-3 campaign, routine consists of a water break every 20 minutes that is redirected to the shade trees.  They also allow the kids to take their helmets off when not involved in contact drills and supply iced down towels for cooling the body throughout practice.  The Cobras also take an extended water break every 60 minutes to assure the cool down time is plentiful.

The heat problem is not going away anytime soon on the gridiron, but two programs in this county are combating them as best they can to ensure the safety of the student-athletes.  They are to be commended for their efforts as well as all coaches who put the safety of players before any championship gold.

Copiah coach Scotty Cline was unavailable for comment at press time.  The Colonels have been working out in the early morning and late afternoons in recent days.

Copiah hosts their annual jamboree on August 12.  Hazlehurst hosts Hinds AHS in the Hazlehurst Classic on August 13.

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