By Jamie Wachter
The Valdosta Daily Times
VALDOSTA — Fall practice doesn’t start for another eight days.
Still, Lowndes High and Thomasville High got a sneak preview of what Friday nights will look like Wednesday morning at Martin Stadium.
With summer workouts winding down, the Vikings and Bulldogs worked through an 11-on-11 game simulation. For all the 7-on-7 work during the summer, both coaches were happy to get a chance to look at the bigger picture.
“We get a lot out of this,” Lowndes coach Randy McPherson said. “They have a good program. We had to line up and play something totally different than they’ve seen all summer. Like you said, the line and linebackers really get challenged.
“I think we got a little bit better today.”
Added Thomasville coach Leroy Ryals: “It takes a lot of maturity on the kids. Coach McPherson is a mature coach, and coaches and kids have to be mature. This is how the pros do it, you have to learn how to fit up and let the backs run through without having a whole lot of drama or talking. You just have to know how to do that.
“We practice that way all the time. Coach McPherson does it all the time. It’s just neat to get to practice against another team like that, that knows how to practice without getting anyone hurt but still practice hard and fast.”
The workout certainly did that with each team capitalizing on some big plays downfield with the defenses having to respect the run as well.
“It was 11-on-11, a walkthrough type, not really trying to beat the other team,” McPherson said. “It went real well. I thought both of us did well.”
Ryals agreed, noting that it was Thomasville’s last work of the summer with the Bulldogs having a conditioning test today before getting a week off.
“It’s such a blessing to come over here and get to work with a guy like coach McPherson, who understands what it’s all about,” he said. “We’re not trying to win a state championship today, we’re trying to work a little bit and get each other better. I’ve known coach McPherson since we both coached in Florida together and he’s a good friend of mine. I’m just thankful he’s a friend of mine, and we can work together.
“I was really impressed by both sets of kids. They just worked. There wasn’t any talking. We played hard and they played hard, and I was just impressed by both sets of young men.”