We are just three days away from the beginning of high school football practice in Columbia County.
Actually, claiming Wednesday as the first practice day is a bit misleading.
Ask any high school football parent: This won't be the first time they have taken their son to the football field. The teams have been running workouts, passing camps and weight-lifting sessions all summer long.
According to the Georgia High School Association Web site, the official date for the first football practices is Aug. 2.
The calendar specifically says "shorts only." Full pads aren't permitted until Aug. 7.
Whenever the first "official" practice starts, things will be different this year.
In past years, the first official practice with pads has often started at midnight.
At 12:01 a.m., teams hit the field and practiced as late as 2 a.m. with several dozen diehard fans watching. This season, the "Midnight Madness" has been cancelled.
It's a school night.
"It's making me sick," Harlem High School coach Jimmie Lewis said. "I want to do it, but the first day with pads is Aug. 7, and I can't keep them out there from 12 to 2 on a school night."
Instead, Lewis will start a half-week of conditioning at 5 p.m. each evening starting Wednesday. At Harlem, and all over Columbia County, football practices will be a far cry from the normal first week. The early start date will ruin another annual football tradition - two-a-day practices.
"The teachers are already in school, and the kids start back on Friday," Lakeside High School coach Randy Hill said. "The scheduling is a little off this year, but it will be fixed next year."
Hill's Panthers will miss the two-a-days and instead hit the gridiron Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. That's the same time rival Greenbrier High School will take the field to begin its practices for the season.
At Evans High School, coach Marty Jackson hasn't completely given up on the two-a-day practices. The Knights will start a two-hour practice Wednesday at 8 a.m., take a 20 minute break, then go for another two hours. It's as close to two-a-day practices as anyone will get.
Except for Augusta Christian Schools.
The Lions will begin practicing Monday with their annual trip to Rock Eagle Football Camp in Eatonton, Ga. Head coach Bruce Lane said his squad will get in several practices per day before returning to Pride Valley for the first home practice Wednesday at 7:30 a.m.
To all you high school football players in Columbia County, good luck getting ready for a new season without the conditioning of two-a-days and the fan support and motivation of Midnight Madness.
You don't need all that stuff. You have to go back-to-school shopping. It's July 30. School starts in five days.
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