August practice underway for area teams
With kickoff less than 20 days away, area high school football teams are putting the pads on for the first time this week.
After a trip to the Upper State championship game in 2017, expectations are high for the Yellow Jackets heading into August.
“We’ll find out more about our team this week,” head coach Will Young said. “We’ve got a lot of areas that look good like our defensive line. Trey Houston and our receivers look good so far. We’ve still got some work to do in other places, but we’re getting better.”
While summer workouts and 7-on-7 leagues are beneficial, Young said the intensity is about to go up for his team.
“The biggest change is the intensity,” Young said. “Once you’re in pads, everything is in full-speed and live. You don’t see a lot of contact in the preseason, so the intensity level jumps up a notch. It’s a good tool to separate the guys that can play on Fridays from those who cannot.
“We’ve played Week 0 for quite a while now, so we don’t really feel pressure getting ready. The pressure comes from playing Byrnes,” Young said. “There’s a big challenge for us there and the guys know it.”
New Blue Ridge head coach James Thurn has noticed a spark in his team this week.
“Our energy is fantastic,” Thurn said. “We’ve still got a long way to go, but we’re continuing to get better every day. It’s good to be back and have a chance again in a new season.”
The Tigers will head into the season under the leadership of a freshman quarterback, Braeden Enloe, who won the job this offseason.
Thurn said his team hopes to surprise some people this fall, and his players are putting in the work to do it.
“All I want our kids to do is better every day,” he said. “I know that sounds cliche, but when you’re trying to turn around a program that went 3-8 and has not been successful over the last couple of years, trying to get better every day is a good thing to focus on. I want these kids to fight every day and overcome some adversity, because at the end of the day, that stuff translates to life.
“Wins and losses are important. Coaches are hired and fired over them. But we don’t talk about that. We talk about controlling what we can control. If we play the best game we can play, we feel like we have a chance,” Thurn said.
New Riverside coach Rick Martin said his team is ready to get back on the field after a disappointing one-win season in 2017.
“Everybody is excited,” Martin said. “We’re a little further along than I thought we’d be, so we’re ready to get out there and see what we’re made of.”
The Warriors will be led by quarterback Andrew Brown and four returning starters on the offensive line.
“We’ve got to build up some mental toughness and be able to handle some adversity when things go bad,” Martin said. “We’re not even preaching one-game-at-a-time. We’re just trying to get better at tomorrow’s practice. If we can get a little better each day, by the end of the year, we’ll be unrecognizable.”
Across the road at Eastside, Dan Morgan is entering his second season as head coach of the program.
The Eagles had plenty of success in 2017, including a home playoff win to end the year.
“Last year was fun, but we are trying as a staff to build a program,” Morgan said. “It takes time, and we are hoping that each season is a step towards our goal. We can get better, and we have to get better in order to compete with the Greer’s and South Pointe’s of the world. We’ve taken our first step, but we have so many other areas of this program to improve upon to think it is an easy fix.”
Eastside opens the year with back-to-back home games against Southside and Riverside.
The Rebels are also looking for more in 2018 under head coach Reggie Shaw.
After winning seven of the their first eight games in 2017, the Rebels ended the year on a three-game losing streak.
That’s why Shaw has been preaching one message this summer: finish.
“I hope the culture has continued to grow and our guys have continued to become more selfless,” Shaw said. “That’s what it takes to be a great teammate and hopefully we continue to see progress in that area. We’ve put a lot of emphasis on finishing this offseason. We want to be mentally and physically tougher, and so far we’ve seen that.”
The Rebels will take on Greer during Week 0.