THOMASVILLE — Games are still a month away but high schools get the opportunity to hit the practice fields today for their first fall practice. Over the next three days, teams will hold practices in helmets, shoulder pads and shorts.

Ed Pilcher’s Thomas County Central Yellow Jackets were not able to hold their usual week-long camp this year but are still holding three-a-day practices through Friday.

“We’ve got it scheduled out for what we’re going to be doing every day,” said Pilcher, whose team will stay at the school the rest of the week. “Hopefully, we can get some work done. I think we’re going to get a lot done.

“We’re going to make it just like camp,” Pilcher added. “They may not be quite as tired because we won’t be able to scrimmage or anything. I think, overall, we’ll get a lot done, though.”

Richie Marsh is beginning his second year at the helm of the Thomasville Bulldogs. After a 5-6 record in his first year, Marsh is looking forward to beginning another chapter in Bulldog football but does have concerns with this year’s preseason schedule.

“Excited, I guess you say,” said Marsh. “I worry about the conditioning part of it.”

Conditioning will be key for all the schools considering the heat that’s sweltering across the south. The three days of practices without full gear should help players adjust to the heat according to Pilcher.

“When you have a camp, you can go early in the morning and late at night,” said Marsh. “When you don’t have a camp, you’re basically pushed to afternoons. Once school starts, you don’t want to send the kids home for two hours and bring them back at 6 p.m. because they’ve got school the next day.

“We’ve been out in it a lot this summer, so I’m not going to say we’re conditioned to the heat, I’m just going to say we’ve been in it some so it’s not going to be a shock to us.”

“It’s always a concern every year during camp,” said Pilcher.

“I know we struggled like heck last Thursday,” said Cairo coach Tom Fallaw. “Some of them went down last Thursday. It was pretty hot.”

The new football schedule may have taken away teams’ camps but it has allotted more summer time for students.

“I like the new schedule. I like the fact that we’ve moved the games back and we gave the kids more summer,” added Fallaw. “Actually, we had better attendance this summer. I don’t know if that had anything to do with it.”

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