The parking lot was full behind Grovetown High School one night last week.
Fans spilled out on tailgates or set up chairs. The booster club sold memberships and bottled water from a table in the middle of it all.
Football practice would not start in Georgia for three more days, but the Warriors fans were treated to a seven-on-seven scrimmage with Thomson High as if it were a Friday night in September.
"It's been a good summer," Grovetown coach Rodney Holder said. "Our workouts have been good. The kids have been coming."
Holder had 71 junior varsity and varsity players participating in the workout with Thomson. The Warriors have held similar seven-on-seven workouts with Richmond Academy, Vidalia, Appling County and Emanuel County Institute.
Holder said most of the first-year team's plays have been installed and that the summer scrimmages ensured everyone knew their place before practice started. Grovetown was scheduled to open practice Saturday at 6:30 p.m.
"When it's game time, you're ready," Grovetown quarterback Xavier Crain said. "Everybody knows where to go. It's almost like practice."
Crain and the Warriors offense worked against Thomson under the eye of Holder. The defense was under the direction of Todd Booker.
At one point, the Warriors defense allowed a Thomson receiver to get wide open deep down the left sideline. But the pass was dropped, and the Warriors responded with two interceptions. With each solid play for the home team, shouts rung out from the parking lot above the practice field.
After the Grovetown defense forced a coverage "sack," coaches came alive from their spots at midfield and shouted encouragement.
The team is learning to play together after meeting for the first time during a spring practice at Grovetown Middle. Workouts then moved to Patriots Park, and this month the team was able to use its practice field, a large gated area behind the school with signs restricting the area to coaches and players only.
The stadium is ready for the Warriors' Sept. 4 home opener against Langston Hughes High School.
"They've done a great job of getting the fields done," said Booker, the school's AD. "Everything's good to go."
The Warriors scrimmage against Monticello on Aug. 14 and play their first game a week later at Buford. Holder said the depth chart was set.
"We feel good about what we're doing here," he said.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.