Thomson High School football players have already received a jump start on brushing up the fundamentals in recent weeks with passing games. But all-out practice starts Aug. 2 while school starts on July 31 for students.
So for the first time, practice will begin after the start of school. That has presented Head Coach Luther Welsh with a few practice schedule kinks to work out.
Two-a-days will be a thing of the past. Now, Thomson players will have pre-season practice after school like they do for the rest of the season.
"We'll just have to go normally like we go through the season because we're not going to be able to get them two times a day," Coach Welsh said. "We'll just have to cramp it in that number of weeks that we've got."
Coach Welsh said he was a proponent of moving the start of practice into August to avoid the heat, but he isn't a fan of starting school as early as it starts in McDuffie County this year. Coupling those two moves in the same year could negatively affect the team, he said.
"Everybody else has got two-a-days and Thomson doesn't," he said. "It's going to affect us. It's a lot of repetition we're going to miss."
The first three days of Thomson's practice will be in helmets, shorts and shoulder pads. The next week will begin practice in full pads.
But the experience the players gained in passing league games this summer has been very beneficial, according to the coaching staff.
"We have made progress during the passing practices on both sides of the ball," said Thomson Defensive Coordinator John Barnett. "These are generally very open-ended, and we reshow plays which have been botched either way. No score is kept."
Coach Welsh said the scrimmages this summer were most beneficial to the team's passing defense.
"It had to have helped them, getting started and working on catching the ball and throwing it and playing defense," he said. "...We're just working on our coverage and breaking on the ball much better than we have in the past. We hope we have improved on it."
The coming season will be a wait-and-see game, Coach Welsh said. New offensive and defensive lines as well as linebackers will have to step into their starting roles. He said he is looking to see how they improve as the season approaches.