It couldn’t have come at a more predictable time.
After being lulled into a sense of safety by a temperate summer, the first day of official high school football practice came with a rude awakening Monday in Hall County.
Some were brave enough to go out in the afternoon, with afternoon temps around 90 and heat index near 100 in Gainesville.
“The heat really reared it’s ugly head today,” first-year East Hall coach Matt Turner said.
Morning sessions were not much more comfortable.
Gainesville coach Heath Webb has his program on the field before 10 a.m. and it was already muggy and unpleasant.
“We got the full brunt of the heat today,” Webb said.
Later this week, it will only get hotter with temperatures, in Gainesville, projected to be in the mid 90s and heat index projected to be around 103. The Georgia High School Association has safety guidelines in place for determining it if it’s too hot for players to be on the field outdoors.
This week is designated as an acclimation period, with five days of practice without pads, before suiting up next week.
While this week isn’t much different, in terms of drills than previous weeks, it does send a clear signal that the season is just around the corner.
For most in Hall County, the season will start in just 25 days.
“There’s definitely a sense of urgency with the players once practice starts and that every day matters,” West Hall coach Krofton Montgomery said.
On the field, players were able to run drills Monday, but coaches remained extremely mindful of player safety with the extreme heat.
Webb said that he’s been extremely proud of the way his kids have handled the adversity with weather: not uncommon conditions for this time of year in northeast Georgia, but certainly not optimal for building up a football team.
The fourth-year Red Elephants coach is liking what he sees from this bunch in 2021.
“You hear that this generation is not as tough as kids used to be, which is not true at all,” Webb said. “We had a tough day in the heat and our kids showed how resilient they are.”
East Hall’s coach planned for an outdoor session of 1 hour, 45 minutes Monday morning. He cut that down by 25 minutes for player safety.
Coaches, like Turner, have harped on players the importance on hydrating and eating a good meal every night.
“You know it’s the first day of football practice when it hits 95 outside,” Turner said.