Area high school football teams were able to hit the field in full pads for the first time Monday. Many started early in the morning and others finished late into the evening to avoid the heat. Here’s a chronological look at the first day of practice:
6:18 a.m.: The sun is just up for a little while when Brentwood Academy’s offensive and defensive lines are drilling in the south end zone. Offensively, the Eagles’ starting front five averages about 280 pounds, and includes three SEC commitments. This group — Ryan Johnson (Tennessee), Bryce Mathews (Ole Miss), and Brandon Adams (Vanderbilt), along with seniors Ryan Franklin and Brian Garvey — will have a lot to do with BA’s success this season.
6:43 a.m.: It’s still early, but BA takes its first water break. Tennessee Secondary Schools Athletic Association (TSSAA) rules are pretty strict about hydration on hot-weather days.
6:52a.m.: At Riverdale, linebackers coach Bobby Wells is already working with players on footwork. Will Kriesky has replaced Wells as defensive coordinator.
6:56 a.m.: In Nashville, Christ Presbyterian Academy players filter out of the locker room, many half-dressed. The closer it gets to the 7 a.m. start, the quicker players get on their pads.
6:59 a.m.: BA sophomore standout wide receiver Camron Johnson hauls in a pass during wide receiver drills. Johnson, also a guard on the Eagles’ state champion basketball team, will be one of the top underclassmen to watch this season.
7 a.m.: Practice is scheduled at East Robertson, but there’s nobody on the field.
7:10 a.m.: After doing stretches, CPA players’ chatter builds as the Lions start with the Oklahoma drill. Seniors run it first, then juniors, sophomores and eventually freshman.
7:11a.m.: Riverdale defensive coordinator Will Kriesky isn’t happy with the effort after a drill. “Do not walk off this field. Jog off this field. Do not walk on this field.” It’s a theme that will play out throughout the day.
7:14 a.m.: No practice for East Robertson. Several of the players leave the school, while others talk in the parking lot.
7:16a.m.: Riverdale assistant Nate Paris is working on open field tackle drills. “Drop your hips, not your eyes,” Paris said, as a safety tip to players. “Protect your head.”
7:18 a.m.: East Robertson first year head coach Chad Broadrick says practice is called off. “We cancelled practice this morning and I told the team that we’re not going to take the field until they can show me they are ready to work.”
7:32 a.m.: CPA Coach Ingle Martin tells his players, “The quickest way to get on to the field is to show up in these drills.”
7:45a.m.: “Get loose, gentlemen. We came to work this morning. Let the others sleep while we work,” Rossview coach Ron Lambert tells the players.
7:56a.m.: “Make some good habits today,” Stewarts Creek assistant David Barger shouts to receivers as they catch passes from an assistant.
8:00 a.m.: Springfield players line up in three lines between pads to run the drill “Find Waldo,” a blocking and tackling drill. Pads are popping as Coach Dustin Wilson runs through the entire team twice. “This was a good start to the day,” Wilson said. “We got through that first drill and no one got injured and that’s something that’s always in the back of our minds as coaches.”
8:01a.m.: Rossview players show their excitement about getting to hit each other. This is the most spirited moments of the early morning practice with coaches and players getting vocal. “Welcome to the season, fellas,” Lambert tells his team.
8:05a.m.: “Well, looky there,” Stewarts Creek assistant Jason Scharsch says to a player after he knocks an opponent to the ground with a big hit.
8:28 a.m.: Rossview’s Jordan Justice works on passing with backup quarterback Geno Avros. Justice has picked up the offense quickly. “This is a really smart kid,” Lambert says. “He just came to our program and he’s telling our other offensive guys how to run our plays.”
8:50 a.m.: A CPA player — the second one of the day — has his pants fall down while running a route. Belts can be forgotten with a 7 a.m. start.
9:05 a.m.: Westmoreland players find shade and water during a 20-minute break. “It’s still rough, but it gets better throughout the week,” Eagle junior center Ryan York said of the heat.
9:10 a.m.: Kenwood huddles while head coach Brian Beaubien talks about why it’s important to start with a good first-day practice. He stresses tempo, focus and work. “Quick pace today, guys,” Beaubien said. “Let’s look good.”
9:16a.m.: Eagleville assistant coach Tom Fiveash, a former MTSU assistant, has been coaching football for about 40 of the past 50 years. He sits in a golf cart as his line gets a water break and asks how good MTSU will be this fall.
9:49a.m.: It’s the last 10 minutes of the first of two Blackman practices. “We don’t know how to huddle,” Blackman coach David Watson yells as loud music is playing. Watson later said the practice was a good one, but it tailed off as the heat got to his team.
10:02a.m.: Blackman players begin to walk off the field. They will go to the fieldhouse to cool off. The team returns to the field in shorts, shirts and helmets later in the afternoon.
10:28 a.m.: White House-Heritage takes a water break and Coach Pat Brown talks to the team and encourages them to ‘fight through’ the heat.
10:29a.m.: Middle Tennessee Christian School’s skill players are working on pass skeleton work as second-year coach Fred Shambaugh observes. “Get a pick,” assistant Brooks Smith barks at the defense. A defender promptly complies. Smith then runs back to the end zone with the player to celebrate the play.
10:40 a.m.: Former Beech High quarterback Jarod Neal stops by near the end of the Buccaneers’ practice. Neal, a senior at the University of Tennessee at Martin, led Beech to the 2009 Class 5A state championship. He was on campus working out, trying to prepare himself for the Skyhawks’ fall camp.
10:58a.m.: Workers are putting up metal beams at the new Oakland softball indoor hitting facility as the Patriots’ football team wraps up practice with running. The varsity has already taken a break and is relaxing in the school’s annex and indoor facility. Some players relax before the next practice in shorts and T-shirts. Others run around the darkened facility.
11:02 a.m.: Five Beech seniors voluntarily run 100-yard sprints after practice. “We usually run 100s,” Buccaneer senior defensive tackle Issac Hambrick said. “We just didn’t do it today. A couple of seniors decided to do it anyway.”
4:30 p.m.: Most teams don’t practice between noon and 4 p.m. due to heat. Since Wilson County teachers had an in-service day, no team practiced in the morning. At Mt. Juliet, its smaller turf field on the side of the practice field still has standing water after rain passed through the area earlier in the afternoon.
5:01 p.m.: Pearl-Cohn begins its practice with about 10 minutes of stretching, and then gets right into it, running full-contact drills for about 30 minutes. Even some freshmen Firebirds get in on the pad-popping action. “We just want to see who will hit and who wants to hit,” Coach Tony Brunetti said.
5:13 pm.: Both the offensive and defensive lines work against each other at Mt. Juliet. The Golden Bears’ projected starting linemen average 6-foot-5 and 280 pounds. Junior right tackle Justin Satterfield is the biggest at 6-foot-7 and 310 pounds.
5:21 p.m.: East Robertson’s coaches delay the start of practice with a lengthy conversation on a new set of team rules. Morning practice was cancelled for what first-year coach Chad Broadrick called a lack of effort.
5:28 p.m.: Mt. Juliet takes its third water break. Head coach Trey Perry talks about defensive coordinator Greg Abner’s addition, saying, “With myself, (running backs coach) Roger Perry and Greg, that’s three coaches with head-coaching experience on our staff. That’s huge.”
5:30 p.m.: Dickson County pushes back start time with the heat index over 103. “You know, you just want to go out and practice,” said Coach Troy Williams.
5:47 p.m.: “You took the candy,” Siegel coach Greg Wyant tells a defensive backfield who went after a teammate on an out pattern during defensive pass skeleton work, leaving part of the field open.
5:56 p.m.: Centennial head coach Brian Rector tells players, “”Let’s go people, four minutes. Show a little shake.”
6:25 p.m.: Pearl-Cohn wide receiver Rontavius Groves hauls in another throw from quarterback Jimmy Ferrell. The duo hooked up 48 times last season — including 19 touchdowns — and the sure-handed speedster Groves could have comparable numbers this fall.
6:24 p.m. Centennial defensive coordinator Michael Copely is not happy with the group’s tackling and makes it known, “We ain’t hugging our mommas. Keep driving those feet.”
6:45 p.m.: La Vergne begins special teams drills. Austin Garcia, a soccer player, is working out at kicker.
7:12 p.m. One Centennial Cougar succumbs to the heat and throws up.
7:15 p.m.: Ultimately, Dickson County’s delay lasts an hour and 45 minutes, and players finally hit the practice field, carrying pads and helmets instead of wearing them.”I’m glad they don’t push the kids out here when it’s this hot,” said Julie Guthrie, mother of DC junior quarterback Jacob Murfree. “It makes me a little nervous when they play when it’s really hot, but they love it and they’re dedicated.”
7:35 p.m.: Smyrna quarterback John Turner is on the sideline throwing into netting as new QB coach Alex Robins watches. Robins, who once coached quarterbacks at MTSU, coached Sonny Gray at the same position when he was quarterback.
Gannett Tennessee’s Michael Murphy, Sam Brown, Tom Kreager, George Robinson, Craig Harris, Chris Brooks, Chris Lynn and John Bailey contributed to this report.