Opening night may be more than two months away, but that doesn’t mean the county’s football teams are sitting on their hands waiting for the season to get here.
As the days start to heat up, the football teams from Callaway, LaGrange and Troup are in the heart of their summer programs that include a conditioning program, as well as numerous camps and seven-on-seven competitions.
The summer programs for the schools will continue through the start of preseason practice, with teams able to put the pads for the first time on Aug. 1.
Teams can practice one week before that without pads.
There will be what the Georgia High School Association calls a “dead week” where teams aren’t allowed to hold organized activities.
That will be the week of July 4th.
Other than that, it’s full-steam ahead.
“It’s been going really good,” LaGrange head coach Donnie Branch said of the summer program. “The kids are doing a good job with that. We’ll go hard until dead week, and then really go hard after dead week.”
Like most teams, a lot of what the Grangers do during the summer consists of seven-on-seven competitions where teams can work on their plays in a non-tackling situation.
“We went over to Auburn and did pretty well, and we’re going to Griffin Thursday,” Branch said. “That’s a big tournament over there.”
Last week, LaGrange hosted a linemen competition hosted by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
A number of area schools participated, and Branch said it was fun for the linemen to take center stage.
“It was good for the linemen,” Branch said. “Everything is kind of about the skill kids in the summer in seven-on-seven stuff.”
The Grangers are coming off a 6-6 season that included a playoff victory, the program’s first since 2008.
Callaway stays busy during the summer with seven-on-seven competitions, as well as numerous camps for players at every position.
Players from Callaway have been to Cochran and Auburn, Ala. this summer for camps, and there will be plenty of other events before the summer is over.
Beyond the football field, Callaway held a major fund-raiser at The Fields Golf Club earlier this month that helps pay for the summer trips.
“We do a lot of camps, so you have to come up with ways to pay for them,” Callaway coach Pete Wiggins said. “We are constantly doing fundraising.”
The Cavaliers continued their run of success last season by going 10-2, winning a region championship and capturing a victory in the state playoffs.
The Cavaliers have won at least one playoff game in four of the past five years, and three times during that span they’ve won 10 games.
Wiggins said putting together a program that consistent is a team effort.
“I’ve got a great staff, and great administration, and a lot of good kids,” Wiggins said. “Callaway High School, we get better every day. I’m very blessed to be in the position I am. There’s a lot of great people that make it all happen.”
Troup participates in a number of camps and seven-on-seven competitions as well, and the team also stays busy with daily activities at the school.
Head coach Lynn Kendall said those activities involve “strength training, agility, conditioning, a number of other conditioning type activities. We also get some field work in as well, working on footwork and some other types of drills. It’s a pretty full day, and we do that four days a week every morning from Monday through Thursday.”
The Tigers, who went 3-7 last season, are having to replace a number of departed seniors, and Kendall said the summer gives the coaches a good idea of who will be able to step up and fill those holes.
“There are a lot of opportunities,” Kendall said. “We’re going to see between now and the first kickoff who’s going to step up and take those slots.”