NHS practices heat up

Published 12:01 am Saturday, August 6, 2011

Natchez High School’s Cody Tucker returns a mock kickoff Friday evening at practice. The Bulldogs are gearing up for their Aug. 19 matchup against Wilkinson County. (Michael Kerekes \ The Natchez Democrat)

NATCHEZ — The Natchez High School football team is working its way through the dog days of summer preparing for its opening week game against Wilkinson County Aug. 19.

The Bulldogs began fall camp Monday and will battle the heat, as well as each other, for two weeks of practice before they suit up for the first time to scrimmage Hazlehurst in this year’s jamboree Aug. 12.

Head coach Lance Reed said despite the short preparation time before the jamboree, his players are showing a lot of improvement already and are working extremely hard.

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“You’d be surprised (at how much we’ve done),” he said. “The guys have really advanced well as far as the offense. I’m proud of the work this group has shown. They come out and battle, and we have a core group here that is really dedicated.”

The Bulldogs practiced in shorts and helmets the first week, and Reed said the goal was to establish the basics.

“(The focus is) execution,” he said. “We want effort and focus on both sides of the ball.”

Natchez will put the pads on for the first time today and have its first scrimmage of fall camp, Reed said.

“We will scrimmage (today), and get the hitting going,” Reed said. “We’ve been going a full week with shorts, and we’ve been physical just in shorts.”

Reed said the physical nature of the practices in the first week led him to believe that his team was ready to scrimmage and start hitting.

“We want to focus on physicality (once we get pads on),” he said. “We want to be physical and tough, and be able to block, get off blocks and tackle.”

Reed said there are still some position battles going on, but for the most part his starters are solidified.

Reed said scorching temperatures are a factor during practice, and keeping the players hydrated is a main priority.

“(The heat) is a really big concern, and we are being very cautious,” he said. “We water them before practice, during and after. We want to give them constant water this week.”

Reed said he is looking forward to hosting the jamboree Aug. 12.

“We really enjoy (hosting the jamboree), and we’d rather not travel this time of year,” he said. “It’s a chance for us to showcase the new team to the fans, and it’s kind of a kickoff to the high school season.”

Reed said he expects his team to be sharp on both sides of the ball in the jamboree, and expects them to play hard.