24-hour tour kicks off prep football camps

24-hour tour kicks off prep football camps

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24-hour tour kicks off prep football camps

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It’s become an annual tradition. Or, perhaps it might best be described as an annual act of lunacy.

Visit nine schools in one day to get a full glimpse of the area’s 11-man football teams on the first day in pads.

For the fourth consecutive season DNJ prep editor Tom Kreager navigated the roads, while keeping to a strict schedule in an effort to see everyone for at least a few minutes. He visited all nine at one point during the day, albeit briefly.

The lone school missed was Lancaster Christian, which did not practice on Monday.

Here is his diary from the first day of practice:

11:37 p.m. — Cannon County first-year coach Brent Bush has chosen to perk his players’ interest with a midnight practice to christen the first day in pads.

That means a stop at a Murfreesboro McDonald’s for a large Coca-Cola for me to keep me awake.

12:00 a.m. — Cannon County players are on Fred Schwartz Field doing stretches when I pull up. A boom box is playing songs to fire up players. Sixteen fans are in the bleachers. Most are standing, waiting to start the Bush era.

Bush quickly gets the crowd fired up as the team runs the Oklahoma Drill. It gives fans a quick taste of who wants to hit.

12:53 a.m. — With quarterback Ryan Jordan transferring to Eagleville, the Lions must break in a new quarterback for at least the fourth straight season. The leading candidate for the role appears to be Cody Petro. He played receiver last year, but he broke a play on a keeper for a touchdown on this opening night.

12:58 a.m. — Petro is taken down by teammate Johnathan Smith. That forces the coaching staff to pull out the yellow vests to signify no contact for the quarterbacks.

1:20 a.m. — The Lions will be practicing a while longer. But I’ve got a long day ahead of me. It’s time for me to go back home to the ‘Boro for a little sleep.

6 a.m. — The alarm on my iPhone wakes me up. A long day of practices await.

6:10 a.m. — OK, it’s time to actually get out of bed. A long day of practices await.

7:08 a.m. — A heavy dew has made the Riverdale practice field extremely slippery as the Warriors go through different one-on-one drills.

There are several new faces on the Warriors’ coaching staff. Former quarterback Scott Thomas is an assistant helping the secondary. Former MTSU player Jonathan Harris is also an assistant for the Warriors.

Harris was a senior safety on MTSU’s team that played in the 2006 Motor City Bowl.

7:24 a.m. — Riverdale assistant Brian Coleman, who helped coach safeties last year, is now the defensive line coach. He replaced Jeff Breeden, who left Riverdale to become the new softball coach at MTSU.

“You’ve got to be quick,” Coleman said the defensive line. “You’ve got to be quick. Go!”

7:43 a.m. — Construction workers can be seen hammering on housing units behind the visitors bleachers of the Smyrna High field. Those workers got a chance to get a good view of Smyrna’s football team.

Former Smyrna assistant Jason Pitts is on the field assisting with some special teams work. Pitts returned to the school this year.

7:58 a.m. — After a brief water break, the Bulldogs branch out on various agility and technique drills. Graduation hit the Bulldogs hard after the 2011 season. Almost every starting position will be filled by a new starter in 2012.

8:12 a.m. — A drive by the La Vergne practice facilities show no one in pads. The coaching staff is still handing out equipment to freshmen. But there are too many stops scheduled to wait.

9:08 a.m. — Eagleville gets to practice on an actual practice field this season. The field, located behind the visitor bleachers at Talon Field, has been in the works for the past couple of seasons, but it finally has mature enough turf to practice.

Eagleville, which is coming off an 11-1 season, begins working on passing skeleton defensive work. Assistants Kent Pippenger and Floyd Walker go over plays with defenders, correcting problems when needed.

9:35 a.m. — The Eagles begin working on the kicking game with freshman Rudy Guerra, a soccer-style kicker with lots of potential.

9:45 a.m. — Time to head to Blackman, which is about to hit the final hour of its first practice of the season.

10:04 a.m. — Blackman’s Styles Corder stands beside himself as he begins to shag punts and take off upfield.

10:20 a.m. — The Blaze begin working on individual offense. Assistant Alex Robins has all four of the Blaze varsity quarterbacks at one corner of the practice field. The quartet includes seniors Chase Smotherman and Matt Williams, who are the frontrunners for the starting job.

10:47 a.m. — Siegel High is wrapping up its first practice when I pull in to the parking lot. Assistant Brian Guthrie is running the team’s linemen.

Head coach Greg Wyant and other members of the varsity staff are on the other side, using a drill that requires players to run to one sideline as a teammate runs down the sideline.

Wyant wraps up practice with a talk. It could be a challenging week for the Stars, who scrimmage at Brentwood Academy on Thursday evening and then host Montgomery Bell Academy on Friday morning.

11:24 a.m. — Oakland High is going through offensive work during the Patriots’ second practice of the season. Emmanuel Smith and Rhett Stacey are taking the majority of snaps at quarterback.

Smith has a strong arm and connected on a deep pass with teammate Tyler Black. Stacey too had his moments, connecting with teammates. The two should push each other during the day.

Senior Travon Willis showed off his muscle on a run after catch where he barreled over the defense.

Time to get caught up from a morning full of football.

6:20 p.m. — La Vergne opened up its evening practice working on its passing game through pass skeleton drills on the soccer practice field. C.J. Fore had a couple of crisp passes, including one deep toss that drew a small applause.

David Emmanuel also had a nice grab as a receiver coming over the middle.

While La Vergne’s varsity works on the soccer field, the freshmen are on the practice field. And a couple of others are on the game field, lining it off.

7:28 p.m. — The last stop of the day is at MTCS. Second-year coach Brian Stewart works with his receivers on running proper routes. He and another assistant throw passes along with quarterbacks Brent Hofbauer and Peyton Buckner.

Webb football coach David Forrest is outside the field, pretending to take notes as a spy. Forrest is an old friend of Stewart.

7:33 p.m. — Stewart now has the linebackers on the game field. He’s working on technique and how to read the offensive line, which the Cougars appear to catch on to quickly.

It’s been a long day. Time to go home.

Tom Kreager is prep editor at The Daily News Journal. Email him at tkreager@dnj.com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/Kreager.

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