If time is an oasis, this summer’s allotment reserved for longtime Carvers Bay football coach Nate Thompson has swiftly dried to a mere puddle.
“Hard to believe it’s already here, huh?” the Bears coach said as he organized helmets, shoulder pads, blocking dummies and other items on Tuesday. “About time to get this whole thing started all over again.”
After a summer of building chemistry and cohesion, a five-day dead period — or closed season — will go into effect on July 23. During this stretch, coaches and players are not permitted to have meetings, hold workouts or perform most football-related activities.
Over the course of the dead period, coaches of all high school sports will report to Charleston for the annual S.C. Athletic Coaches Association (SCACA) clinic.
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The dead period ends at midnight on July 28, also marking the first opportunity teams statewide can hold practice in anticipation of the 2017 season.
Since the end of spring drills in May, coaches and players have spent time at countless 7-on-7 passing leagues, lineman camps as well as regular conditioning sessions. With the exception of the coming dead period, teams will have spent the better part of six months on the gridiron — whether it be on the practice field or under the Friday night lights.
These don’t include scrimmages, camps and workouts for other sports over the course of the summer.
A decade or so ago, Carolina Forest football coach Marc Morris recalls, many of those activities being on a voluntary basis, primarily for those driven to be a step ahead of competition. These days, it is a requirement at most schools..
“Honestly, these days it can truly be the difference between a win and a loss,” he said. “Previously, workouts in the summer were in an effort to get a leg up on competition. Now, everyone is doing it … the incentive to get ahead is gone, but you have to do it so your team doesn’t fall too far behind.”
While the process helps in terms of player evaluation and scheme, Morris said he’s in favor of relaxing the summer schedule a bit, mainly for the sake of student-athletes.
“I kind of beg the question of whether we stopped at all?” Morris said. “In my opinion, the kids need a break. They need to be allowed to be themselves. But sometimes, it just is what it is.”
For coaches like Green Sea Floyds’ Donnie Kiefer, taking advantage of the past few months of football-related activities was a top priority.
“Obviously, there is no contact, but getting the kids up to par in terms of a strength-and-conditioning aspect has been important,” he said. “From a player’s standpoint, the summer is pivotal. But for me, coming in for spring ball and not having this time with my staff and players certainly would have made things more difficult going into the practice and the lead up our season opener.
“The span from the start of practice to the first game of the season isn’t long at all. We have to make the most of all the time we’ve been allowed.”