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At long last.
County preps football ended an eight-month hiatus Monday, as the local teams hit the field on the first day of practice.
The lads were even treated to some football weather. Monday dawned with temperatures in the 70s and clouds blocking out the sun.
That was a far cry from the scorching conditions that had hit the area in the prior weeks.
But don’t worry. It’ll get warm enough for everybody.
Liberty’s opening session had 65 varsity and JV Minutemen working out the kinks while becoming reacquainted with the ol’ pigskin.
While Head Coach Chris Watts would have preferred to have a higher number, he seemed pleased with those that turned out for the first day.
“The ones here have been coming to the weight room all season,” he noted. “In years past, we’ve had bigger numbers, but they were not in this good shape.”
A quick trip around the practice facility backed up the coach’s appraisal. This Minutemen squad looks very solid, physically. It also seemed quite focused.
How this fitness and focus translates into performance, of course, remains to be seen.
The Minutemen kicked off practice at 8 a.m. Monday morning, as did Staunton River.
Jefferson Forest, meanwhile, has opted for its usual afternoon/evening schedule.
Each of the teams has two sessions per day, with each session lasting in the neighborhood of two hours apiece.
Over the next two weeks, the amount of gear that can be worn increases, until players are fully attired in their pads.
Concurrently, the amount of contact increases as they move forward.
All of this movement steadily leads toward the first critical opportunity: game-simulated scrimmages against an opponent.
Those events will take place sooner than you might think. Liberty opens scrimmage play on Saturday, Aug. 14 with its traditional jamboree. This year, the Minutemen will host Louisa, William Fleming and Spotswood.
That same weekend, Jefferson Forest will show what it’s got when the Cavs host Rockbridge. That game will take place Friday at 7 p.m.
Staunton River, meanwhile, will visit William Campbell on Saturday, Aug. 14, time TBD.
The second set of scrimmages will take place the following weekend. Liberty hosts a benefit game against defending state champ Northside on Aug. 20, 7 p.m.
JF travels to Radford for an Aug. 20, 4 p.m. tilt. River hosts Waynesboro, Aug. 20, 6 p.m.
As long as we’re talking football, don’t forget to check out our Preps Football Preview. It will be included in the August 25 Bedford Bulletin and will be jam-packed with team reviews, data, analysis, commentary, schedules and much more.