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PRC football puts on the pads to prepare for jamboree

Padded practices have finally begun for the Pearl River Central football team after having several weeks to acclimate and condition the players. The Mississippi High School Athletic Association released a series of practice guidelines football programs in the state have to follow, which included limits on contact early on.

Practices were allowed to start Aug. 17 with only shorts, shirts and helmets allowed for the first two days. On the third day of practice shoulder pads came out and finally full pads were allowed on the sixth day of practice.

The Blue Devils took full advantage of the full pad practices by having a scrimmage last Saturday.

Head Coach Jacob Owen said finally getting into contact practices allows him and his staff to evaluate which players are willing to challenge themselves for the betterment of the team. “It’s really easy to be a good football player in shorts and helmets, but when you get out there firing around with people hitting you and you hitting them, that separates the contenders from the pretenders. We wanted to see who would get physical and play hard,” Owen said.

Owen said nearly 80 players showed up for the weekend scrimmage and every single one got competitive reps.

Starters may have gotten more play time by the end of the scrimmage, but each athlete got valuable time on the field to help continue the development of the younger players.

“It’s something our kids haven’t done since last November. They were extremely excited to get the pads on, get physical and start hitting each other,” Owen said.

The scrimmage and subsequent padded practices are all in preparation for the Blue Devils’ jamboree game tonight at Bay High.

The jamboree match up will essentially serve as a preseason game for the Blue Devils with competitive play starting Sept. 4 at Sumrall.

While the match up with Bay High won’t show up on PRC’s record, that doesn’t mean the Blue Devils aren’t going into it wanting to win.

It’ll be the players’ first chance to play with one another in a competitive environment against another team this year and Owen wants to see his program come out on top.

“We want to win. Most people would tell you they’re going to figure things out, but we want to go over there and win a game, even if it’s just for a half. We believe we know what we have here and we’re excited about it. We want to go over there, perform well and perform with confidence,” Owen said.