New Section head football coach Chris Hammon got the job in May with the Lions in the midst of spring practice.

The former Valley Head and Scottsboro assistant coach likened it to an experiment. He wasn’t there for enough practices to do proper evaluations and admits there were some players out of position when the Lions played their spring jamboree at Valley Head.

“Watching the film helped us. Saw a lot of good things. Saw a lot of kids playing hard, a lot of grit. (But) we had some kids out of position,” Hammon said. “We’re going to move them, get them in the right fit. Getting them where they fit is big. We know now we’re some of them can benefit us better. We’re glad we found that out then instead of having to wait till we started practicing (in the fall).”

High school football practice begins statewide on Monday. Teams will practice in helmets the first two days and can add shoulder pads the following two days before going to full pads after that. 

Teams have been working for much of July doing their regular offseason workouts along with 7-on-7s, 11-on-11s and other organized training activities. 

Those are a good warmup for when practice starts “for real”, said Scottsboro head coach Don Jacobs.

“We get those weeks to build up for the start. Gives us a head start on some of the conditioning part and getting acclimated to the heat.”

For new North Jackson head coach Chandler Tygard, the coming start of fall practice is a gauge to see just how effective the team’s summer conditioning and training program proved to be. 

“We make practices hard so the games are easy,” Tygard said. “We are extremely detailed oriented. We script our practices to the minute. If you can last a two-and-a-half hour practice out there, you’re in shape. We couldn’t get through one in the spring. I had to cut (practice) off to keep them from developing bad habits. We’ll see if we can in the fall.”

NSM head coach Keith Kirby said the start of fall practice gives coaches a chance to work on fixing “things we need to fix” from summer competition.

Pisgah head coach Luke Pruitt said there is a mindset change involved when teams go from its summer work to preseason practice.

“The mentality is this is full go now,” he said. “You’re not in (the offseason) anymore. You’re about to be in full pads and seeing where this thing is going.”

At Woodville, the Panthers play their season opener at Waterloo a week earlier than other local teams. But Panthers head coach Jay Powell said the earlier start isn’t a concern for him.

“Three weeks is still a long time to practice,” Powell said. “We feel like we’re gotten in good shape this summer and we’ve got a good handle on the offense and the defense. We’ve got an experienced team. I think they’re mature enough to handle (having one less practice week in the preseason).” 

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