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Vidalia High off to good start in fall camp

Coach Fred Marsalis Jr. runs Vidalia High School players through cone drills during the first practice of the season Monday. (Justin Sellers / The Natchez Democrat)
Coach Fred Marsalis Jr. runs Vidalia High School players through cone drills during the first practice of the season Monday. (Justin Sellers / The Natchez Democrat)

VIDALIA — Fall camp may have started for Louisiana High School Athletic Association member schools, but Gary Parnham Jr. said it’s still not quite 100 percent football.

“We’re in shorts for three days,” Parnham said. “No pads means it’s not real football.”

But Parnham said he was still happy to finally get out on the practice field after a later-than-usual start to fall camp.

“We’re excited about getting started,” Parnham said. “We’re working hard and trying to win some football games.”

The overall numbers at Vidalia were down compared to previous seasons, but Parnham said he’s still waiting on a few players to turn in their forms and get cleared to play.

“We’ll probably end up with about 35 or so,” Parnham said. “Our numbers fluctuate every year. We’ll go from 50 to 30 to 40, but this year, we’ve got some good young talent coming up. But the keyword is ‘young.’”

Vikings quarterback Stewart Mallory said the later start to the fall means he and his teammates will have to play catchup as they get ready for a scrimmage in 10 days.

“We definitely need to get in better shape,” Mallory said. “We’re working pretty hard, and we’ve had to fill in for some guys who left.”

The smaller roster will mean players have to play more than one position, increasing the need for the team to get in shape even more, Mallory said.

“There’s not as much depth, but if we work hard and get in good shape, it shouldn’t be a problem,” Mallory said.

Parnham said the coaches would have to cram in as much as they could with the Vidalia High School jamboree a little more than two weeks away.

“We’re running drills that will be purposeful for the offense and defense,” Parnham said.

And the biggest challenge for the Vikings may be some players not picking up on things as quickly as they need to, Mallory said.

“You have some slow learners,” Mallory said. “Some people aren’t in as good a shape, so asking us to fit everything in (the short timeframe) is tough.”

Ferriday High School

The biggest adjustment for the Trojans in their first day of fall camp was getting used to competing in the late-summer heat, head coach Cleothis Cumming said.

“So far it’s going good; we just have to get them acclimated to the heat,” Cummings said. “It’s no different than it was early in the summer, but we were working out in the mornings then instead of the evenings.”

Toward the end of summer conditioning, Cummings said he began working his players out in the evenings to prepare them for fall camp. So far, he can tell the difference between the players that participated in summer workouts versus those who didn’t.

“The guys who came to summer workouts are pretty much in shape at this point,” Cummings said.

Senior linebacker Karl Hall said it there was definitely an adjustment period for he and the other players on day one.

“It’s a hot day,” Hall said. “I just have to push through.”

Hall didn’t participate in the school’s spring game because of what he called school troubles, but he said that’s now behind him. Missing out on the spring game has given him an extra push to do well this fall.

“I have to come out here and push hard,” Hall said. “It’s a minor setback for a major comeback.”

Cummings said he realizes the challenges of beginning fall camp later in August, but he said he and his players would just have to deal with it.

“We don’t have any control over that,” Cummings said. “We just have to make the most of what we have.”

Hall said he doesn’t feel like the late start will be too much of a problem.

“It’s still enough (practice time),” Hall said. “I have to cram stuff in. It’s hard, but I manage to do it.”

Early in fall camp, Cummings said the main focus would be on fundamentals.

“Right now, we’re working on the teaching aspects of the game,” he said. “We’ll continue to progress from there. There’s a lot of teaching that’s necessary right now.”