Lakeside High School senior C.J. Middleton runs through an agility drill during practice. Monday marked the first day of conditioning practice for Georgia High School Association squads.
Columbia County's public high school football teams officially began the march to the 2002 campaign this week, as Monday marked the opening day of conditioning practice for Georgia High School Association squads.
Randy Hill is preparing forhis first season as Lakeside head coach, but when the Panthers reported to practice Monday, their new leader sounded as if he were hosting an episode of The Surprise Gardener.
"You've got to keep watering them all the time. If you don't get water in them, their output drops," Hill said of the key to having a fertile football crop during the dog days of summer.
"The first week we give them about five water breaks a day, and we keep track of the weather."
Lakeside and Evans conducted morning practices this week, and each got a break Monday when cloud cover cooled things off for the players.
"That's one reason we go in the morning. The temperature is still down, and when we come in early, we can get a lot more done," Hill said.
Harlem and Greenbrier opened practice late Monday, while the Augusta Christian School Lions will hit the gridiron for the first time next Monday.
Columbia County's public school squads open the season Aug. 30, and Augusta Christian kicks off 2002 on Aug. 23. Despite less practice time and an earlier start to the season, the Lions will be ready, according to first-year head coach Bruce Lane.
"We still have a long time to practice before the first game, so it works out just right for us," Lane said. "Gosh, I don't know how the (public) schools keep their kids' attention with five weeks of practice."
Lakeside senior Phillip Choat, though, was tired of playing the waiting game - he was ready for football.
"It's been a long summer. I was ready to come back," Choat said Monday. "I don't think this week's practices will be too tough; we're just in helmets. Whenever we get in pads, it will be tougher."
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