Football programs losing spring practice

Published 7:00 am Saturday, April 4, 2020

The football teams at Poplarville High School, Picayune Memorial High School and Pearl River Central High School all use spring practices as a way to prepare the players for the intensity of summer practices.

Once the football season ends pads are put away and the main focus becomes strength and conditioning.

However, during a short period in the spring, the pads come back out and full contact drills can take place.

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The lack of spring practice for all three of these programs will have varying effects.

Everything from implementing new systems to helping players transition into new positions will be impacted by the lack of spring practices.

Jay Beech is the head coach of the Poplarville Hornets and he said the lack of practices will hinder position battles as young athletes fight for starting spots.

“We have to replace a quarterback and we have a few guys competing for that spot, and we have a new defensive system we’re putting in. We really needed that time in the spring to learn,” Beech said.

The spring practices also serve as a time of education for the athletes.

Some players may be taking over a new role or having to learn a new system on either side of the ball.

Now that learning period will have to be rolled into the summer.

“We’re big on having the athletes know what they’re doing. In the spring we slow everything down and teach them,” Picayune Maroon Tide Head Coach Cody Stogner said.

Currently athletics are suspended until April 20, but there’s a possibility the suspension could carry into the summer.

Jacob Owen is the Head Coach of PRC’s program and he said usually programs have practices scheduled and know what the focus will be during the practices.

Each day is used purposefully and with the uncertainty surrounding athletics there’s no way to plan practices.

“As football coaches we like to have a plan and be organized, and this is really out of all our comfort zones. We don’t know what the future holds,” Owen said.

Staff around the country are struggling with similar issues and the situation may be more difficult for new coaches.

Owen said the continuity of his program will help whenever practices start again because the athletes will understand what’s expected of them.

“We are fortunate to have been in the same system and have the same head coach now for two years. The ones who are really in a tough spot are the guys who are in a new place for the first year,” Owen said.

Now the emphasis will turn to the summer, which is when the three programs will strive to fit in all of the progress planned for spring practices into a shorter time frame.

However, the possibility of practicing in the summer still isn’t concrete, so coaches are left wondering how they’ll get their programs in top form heading into the season.

“It probably will change some of the stuff we do in the summer. We’ll have to spend more time on the field rather than weight lifting and that’s even if we have a summer,” Beech said.