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Ormond Beach Observer Sunday, Jun. 14, 2015 5 years ago

The dog days of summer football practice

by: Jeff Dawsey Sports Editor

The typical high school football season goes on for nine to 15 weeks, depending on how far a team wins in the playoffs. During the season, very few players ever quit; those that do walk off under the heat of the summer.

One of Mainland’s assistant coaches, A.J. Mallory, recently updated his Twitter account to give football players advice on how to conquer the summer.

“For as long as you play football, summer workouts are meant to test your body and your mind,” he said. “Take the test, pass the test and make it to the season.”

In my eighth-grade year, I quit the team for a week, before I decided to rejoin the guys. I felt like I needed a break from the practice field during the 800-degree (OK, 400) summer. There are no games to look forward to at the end of the week. It’s just sweaty football pads in a smelly locker room, coaches who are fixed on getting all their players on the same page with unfriendly language and an affectionate sun that seems to love summer football practice more than any other sport in the world.

For some teams there are two-a-days. Don’t get me started on two-a-days. Someone thought it would be wise to double the worst part of football season.

So, how do players survive the summer gauntlet? Drive, coveted Friday nights and the hope of making it to the next level push the athletes. After hours of weightlifting, warm-up drills, running formations and then sprints as the practice finale, very few things motivate athletes to repeat that routine for over two months.

“It can get really hot at times, but that’s where you find out who really wants to play and who doesn’t,” said Que’Shaun Byrd, Flagler Palm Coast’s running back. “For me, I look to get better each day, and I don’t think about the time we have until the first game; it’s so fun.”

For those who will survive the offseason, that first game will feel like a rite of passage. The coaches will deliver the first game speech of the season, congratulating everyone who made it to that point. And then, the offseason drills will seem far in the past.

Follow Jeff Dawsey on Twitter @PCOsports

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