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Teams return to work following dead week

By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY

Daily News

With the fall sports seasons quickly approaching, it’s time to get back to work.

Sports teams in the state took some time off last week because of the Georgia High School Association-mandated dead week.

That dead week ended on Sunday, and teams were back on the practice field, in the gym, or in the weight room on Monday in preparation for the upcoming seasons.

The football, volleyball, softball, cross country, and cheerleading seasons are all scheduled to begin in August.

Teams in Troup County began voluntary summer conditioning on June 8, and they got three weeks of work in before the dead week arrived.

The GHSA has opened things up a little bit more this week, with football teams able to start participating in seven-on-seven drills without helmets and pads, and players can also be placed in different groups for the first time.

“We did some seven-on-seven stuff, and actually got some bags out,” said Callaway defensive coordinator Dusty Hubbard. “It was good to be able to do that stuff. It feels more like football.”

Also this week, the cheerleading, softball and volleyball teams are permitted to hold tryouts for the fall season.

The previous guidelines designed to minimize the health risks to the players and coaches remain in place.

At the moment, GHSA executive director Robin Hines said the plan is to have all of the fall sport seasons, including football, begin on time, although that is subject to change.

“If we weren’t willing to put on the brakes, we shouldn’t be willing to move forward,” Hines said in an interview with the Atlanta Journal Constitution. “So if indications are we’re in a bad place and need to be restrictive, we’ll do that. I still pray that things work out for the best and we’ll be able to start on time.”

Hines met with the Medicine Advisory Council last week before making the decision to open things up a little bit more this week.

“Our sports-medicine group feels that intensity can pick up,” Hines told the AJC. “We’re where we thought we’d be. Now quarterbacks can throw to wide receivers. Pitchers can throw to batters with a catcher. Volleyball players will be able to set and spike. We’re just taking baby steps, trying to strive for normalcy, while keeping us as healthy as we can.”

Voluntary workouts for football will continue through July 27 when mandatory practice will get underway.

Callaway, LaGrange and Troup each have preseason games scheduled for Aug. 7, with the regular season set to begin on Aug. 21.

For volleyball, softball, cross and cheerleading, mandatory practice will start on Aug. 1.

“I continue to be optimistic about our season,” Hines said. “Nothing has happened until this point that has made us feel like we needed to adjust our calendar at all. I say that with the caveat that it could change tomorrow. All guidance is fluid. We’ll continue to look at the data and see where it takes us.”