Augusta Prep and Augusta Christian began their football practices last week, just a few days behind their public school counterparts.
At Augusta Prep, the team went from just helmets to putting on shoulder pads for the beginning of its two-a-days Wednesday morning.
“It feels a lot better than walking around with our helmets on. That’s kind of dorky,” said senior quarterback Jack Owen.
And while it was just the third day of practice, head coach Harry Bacheller was satisfied with his team’s progress.
“I think we’ve exceeded what I would expect as a coach as far as getting started,” said Bacheller, whose team went 6-4 in 2011 in its first full year as a high school program.
Wednesday afternoon, Augusta Christian took to the field, also in helmets and shoulder pads.
Head coach Keith Walton ran the Lions through drills and plays, but was holding off on real contact until the end of the week.
“We don’t go shoulder pad on shoulder pad, but we’ll go pad on (blocking) pad,” said Walton. “It’s better than it was the other day, but nowhere close to what Friday is going to be.”
Junior running back Thomas Banks was looking forward to Friday.
“Full pads, full contact, hitting all day,” said Banks with a wide smile. “I love it.”
Georgia High School Association rules allowed members to start practicing with full pads on Wednesday.
To get the maximum number of players through the mandatory five days of conditioning, Grovetown’s Rodney Holder was holding off going full dress until Friday. With almost two weeks under their belt, he was satisfied with his team’s progress.
“They’re doing good, everything’s fine, we’ve had great weather and everyone’s healthy,” said Holder.
With training camp winding down, the Warriors were also going to be free Saturday.
“We’ll try to give them that last weekend to be kids a little bit,” Holder said. “We’re going to scrimmage in the stadium in the morning Friday, Monday we’ll do two again and Tuesday we’re back in school.”
Wednesday also marked the first day of practice for the fledgling East Georgia Pop Warner Association as Burt Rayburn, league president and head coach of the Martinez Raiders, put his team through its paces at Lakeside High School.
Like the high schools, the teams are required to go through 10 hours of conditioning to start their practices.
During the season, the league will be playing its games at county high school stadiums on Saturdays. The six associations in the league are Grovetown, Greenbrier, Evans, Martinez, Riverside and Augusta.