For three summers, South Carolina’s football coaches have been allowed more leniency when it comes to their offseason conditioning and practice schedules.
And starting this year, Horry County’s nine coaches received a pay bump, at least in part, due to the increased work. But for all the extra time and the talk surrounding it, Friday’s first day of fall camp still brings the same adrenaline rush it always did for players and coaches.
“You want to know who is going to show up 100 percent, who’s ready,” 11th year Aynor coach Jody Jenerette said. “It’s more butterflies. I’ll get up about 4 o’clock. It’s like Christmas.”
While there are several mile markers along the way in the next month – the first day in full pads, the CNB Kickoff Classic luncheon and scrimmages, and various photo days – Friday’s practices are about as anticipated as anything other than that first game day. If nothing else, the combination of preparation and kicking off the timeline of fall camp comes together for everyone.
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All 12 of the area’s teams, including the three not playing in Week 0, are now less than one month away from their first games. The nine teams taking advantage of that first available game date are just three weeks out.
Most of the area’s teams will be done well in advance of noon Friday. Whether it’s to get the ball rolling or simply to beat the heat, no one wants to wait around.
“I think our kids will be extremely excited about getting back on the field,” Myrtle Beach coach Mickey Wilson said. “When you do the summer conditioning and weight room, that can get a little monotonous. Our veterans will keep the youngsters calm, so to speak.”
The process instilled by the South Carolina High School League helps keeps emotions in check a bit, as well.
Players are restricted to a pair of helmets-only practices and then two sessions of helmets and shoulder pads prior to full-contact. Teams must then alternate between long and short days for the duration of the first 15 days.
The first scrimmages are allowed Thursday of next week.
None of that happens without Friday’s practice opener.
“We want to have a great first day,” Wilson said. “But we also want it to be seamless and where we left off from spring practice.”
Said Jenerette: “You don’t ever know if you’ve got it ready. But it’s here. You better get ready.”