It’s almost hard to believe, but high school football practice starts next week, July 15th, in the Bluegrass State.
With spring practices, off-season workout programs and weight lifting, players don’t get much time off these days.
I don’t envy these kids practicing in the heat and humidity of the Dog Days of summer.
The first week, players will go in just helmets, T-shirts and shorts, for conditioning drills. Then after that they can start going in full pads.
In West Virginia, football practice does not start until Monday, August 4th.
However, most of the high schools in the Mountain State, including Mingo County, will start back to school in mid-August. This is not like in past years, when school started around Labor Day, or September 1st.
This will probably affect two-a-day practices.
These days, many coaches elect to have their players have back-to-back practices, rather than having the first one early in the morning and the second one in the late afternoon. This was done to avoid the heat and humidity of August.
They will have the players practice, then take about an hour break, then hit the field again for the second set of drills.
Belfry is coming off of a Class AAA state championship. And even though they graduated several great senior players, look for Coach Philip Haywood to reload, rather than rebuild his squad.
Up on the mountain at Mingo Central, the Miners of head coach Yogi Kinder are coming off of their best season since the consolidation at 8-3 and a trip to the playoffs in Class AA. The Miners only lost four seniors to graduation, but did lose junior running back Deonte Joplin, who has transferred to Belfry.
Down at Tug Valley, Coach Tony Clusky will try to get the Panthers back to the Class A playoffs. TVHS had a rare losing season under Clusky, but they return several top skill players this season.
Down in Martin County, Coach Shawn Hager lost several players via the transfer route last year, but he has a lot of young players returning this season who gained a lot of experience last season.
Up at Phelps, the Hornets still do not have a home field to call their own. They played their “home” games at Vipperman Stadium, which is the home field of Belfry Middle School. Coach Randy Smith is trying to keep that program going until a new sports complex can be built up in the Phelps area.
Belfry opens its season at home on Friday, August 29, in the Pike County Bowl taking on Lexington Henry Clay. That will be a good early test for the Pirates.
Mingo Central opens up on the road as they travel to Wyoming East on Friday, August 29th. Tug Valley opens up the same night as they travel to Boone County to take on Sherman.
Sheldon Clark has a tough road opener as they travel to Prestonsburg to tangle with the Blackcats.
Kentucky can start the regular season a week early on Friday, August 22. Phelps will do just that traveling to Jenkins for their opening contest of 2014.
It should be another exciting year for high school football in the area.
The Williamson Daily News and its sister papers, the Logan Banner, Gilbert Times, Coal Valley News and Pineville Herald will once again publish our pre-season high school football edition in August.
It will have preview stories, team and individual photos, schedules and more. Be sure to get your copy.
(Kyle Lovern is the Sports Editor for the Williamson Daily News. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 304-235-4242, ext. 33 or Twitter @KyleLovern)