Football teams begin fall drills
Wednesday, August 6, 2014 1:00 AM
Local high school football teams have returned to the practice field as they prepare for their respective 2014 seasons.
Players with the Neshoba Central High School football team run drills to prepare for the upcoming football season
It was a little wet for some as rain storms came into the area Monday afternoon.
Still, the season is not far away. The first week of games will be Friday, Aug. 22. But fans at Neshoba Central, Philadelphia, Union and Leake Academy will get a preview of their teams the week before when all play in two quarter "jamboree" games.
Here's a look at each prep team as they start practice.
With the start of school, the Neshoba Central football team is in its regular routine. New Head Coach Stacy Luker says the Rockets will lift weights and then hit the practice field.
"The rules have changed so much that it is hard to call this (Monday) our first day of practice," Luker said. "We have been lifting weights and working out throughout the summer.
"We will work on special teams and conditioning this week. I hope to have everything in by the end of the week so we can practice what we do when we go out in pads next week."
The Rockets have 59 players on their roster as they enter the 2014 fall drills. Those players Luker noted as having a good summer included fullback James Campbell, quarterback Adam Shoemaker, linebackers Tristan Ellingburg, Cole Hodgins and Dez Hernandez, and free safety Creel Hickman.
"A lot of our players made progress over the summer," Luker said. "I feel like we are in good shape at this point, but you don't get into game shape until you get under the lights and play someone else."
The Rockets' first action of the season will be a jamboree game at home against Meridian High School on Aug. 15. Neshoba Central opens the season at home on Aug. 22 against Newton County.
It was business as usual for the Philadelphia Tornadoes when they opened fall drills.
"We run the same thing," Coach Teddy Dyess said. "We could go out and play in March and everyone would know where he is supposed to be.
"The main thing we will be working on this week is conditioning and setting the tone for our practices," Dyess said. "Our system is in. We are a formation team and our players know where they are supposed to be and their assignments. We have to practice on execution now."
Dyess said the Tornadoes had a good summer for the number of workouts players attended. Of 32 workouts, 12 made 30 or more. A player gets his name on his jersey if he makes 25 workouts and Dyess that number was up as well.
"I was very pleased with the summer," Dyess said. "This will help us as we get ready for the season."
The Tornadoes will again hold their midnight practice on Friday night. Saturday at 12:01 is the start of the players being able to go out in full pads and the Tornadoes have made this annual scrimmage a tradition.
The following Saturday, Aug. 16, Philadelphia will play against Aberdeen in the Mississippi State jamboree which will be held in the Wade Stadium at Scott Field. The start of that game is 9 a.m.
The Tornadoes open the season at home on Aug. 22 against South Delta. Last year, Philadelphia beat South Delta in Rolling Fork, 49-0.
Coach Jerrod Thompson welcomed 35 players to fall drills at Choctaw Central Monday when they opened practice.
"We had a good summer of workouts and went to the 7-on-7 camp at West Alabama," Thompson said. "Now we have to come together and start getting ready for the season."
Much of the offense will be built around the passing arm of junior quarterback Bryce Billy. His top receivers will be Brandon Kennedy and Derald Isom while Christian Deon is expected to carry the rushing game.
In the past, a lack of depth on the offensive line has been a problem for the Warriors and Thompson said his team is facing that again this year.
"We've been working on developing some people who can come in and play on the line when injuries occur," Thompson said.
The Warriors are not playing in a jamboree game. They open the season at home on Aug. 22 when they host Leake Central.
Ask veteran Union Coach Brad Breland what kind of team he is expecting with his 2014 Yellowjacket football team, and he will be quick to tell you.
"I really don't know," Breland said. "We are going to be young. But if we can get some good leadership on the field, we can have a good season. That is going to be the key."
Union has seven starters returning on offense and five on defense.
"We have some young guys playing in some important positions," Breland said. "That is especially true on defense in the secondary. How well they learn and step up will determine how good we are."
The Yellowjackets' first taste of competition will be in the Lake jamboree Aug. 15 against Newton County. Union opens the season at home against Nanih Waiya.
The Leake Academy Rebels went out last Thursday and Friday to get their fall training started.
The Rebels have 36 players out. They are slated to scrimmage at East Rankin this Friday. Their first real action will be in the Tri-County Jamboree.
Leake Academy opens the season at home on Aug. 22 against Copiah Academy.