The day has finally arrived! While football teams around Big Bend have been operating since late May, today was the first day teams could officially conduct official training for the 2022 season.
From Southwood to Bradfordville, Big Bend teams are counting down to kick-off on August 19th in various pre-season classics. The Tallahassee Democrat was on the ground all Monday in Lyon County catching up with a few area teams. Here’s how some of the region’s football teams are feeling just under three weeks into the season.
Chiles coach Kevin Pettis wore a smile on his face after completing first-team training for the 2022 football season.
Bettis assessed his team re-offending their entire offensive led by the elderly, quarterback Trent Hartung and returning Triavis Jones.
“The first day was good,” Pettis said. “Being able to get out of here, run in plays, and see how the work pays off is always a good thing. They all know what’s going on in the attack. We have a long way to go and a short time to get there.”
Hartung and Jones led the offensive early Monday morning in training in preparation for the final high school football season.
“I had fun,” Hartung said. “It was good to be here early and get into it.”
“It was fun to play with my teammates, to learn, to teach the guys,” Jones said.
Hartung is entering his second season as a full-time regular under the center position and is capitalizing on the fears he gained as a young quarterback.
“It’s another year under my belt,” he said. “In the past year, I’ve learned a lot of things to develop my game.
Jones has a ring on his mind. The department I would like to look back on represents a wealth of knowledge for his less experienced teammates as they seek to bring in some football gear at Chelsea.
“I want to lead my team and help in any way we can. We have to keep pushing and striving for greatness every day so we can try to win the state championship.”
Chilean football has been through hard times after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
After finishing 6-5 with a 7A supplement berth in 2019, Timberwolves took one win in 2020 with a 1-8. A season ago they missed the state playoffs but raised their winning aggregate as they went 4-6.
“We took a step in the right direction last year,” Hartung said. “These two years can really push us this year with all the experience we have.” We have high goals and we want to compete every Friday night and have a playoff.”
The past is an afterthought for Betis. He wants his team to build stability during the season to be ready for the August 19 Kickoff Classic vs. Sebastian River.
“We don’t judge success by wins and losses like everyone else does. Our goals are always the same – we want to get better every week and the day has begun. We just want to stay focused on the process and let the results take care of themselves.”
“We have two sayings here – ‘Hoka Hey’ and ‘Sparta Lives.
“I believe we have the greatest warriors on the planet here in Chile.”
Seminoles coach Jarrod Hickman said on a media day that this was one of the best summers he’s ever had in his 17 years at Florida High School. With a new classification format and seeing another ambitious upper class step up to the task, the standard is once again high at Southwood.
With that being said, the next step is to return to the regular season rhythm of the Seminoles, which was the focus of the first day of training.
“It’s been a really good summer and our kids have done a really good job,” Hickman said. “Now we just have to get rid of the rust.” “We’re trying to push, work as hard as we can and get ready. Our first morning was just fine. Expectations are off the chart for this group and we’re going to stick to that standard.”
Three weeks after kicking off their classic game in Blountstown, Florida High is looking to focus on certain parts of their game rather than get a feel for where everyone else is, which spring has been for him according to Hickman. Details are key to condensing early.
The Seminoles come back a lot from the mass section. Among the few names that come to mind from the returnees are senior wide receiver Brooks Hickman, top racer Ryder Bobble, top linebacker Micahi Danzi and top linebacker Chris Cotton. An array of options to sign up for Florida High puts them in a comfortable place.
As for what the Seminoles are looking to touch before taking off, details are still the focus. Heckman said that the defense looked good on the first day, and that the attack should focus on execution and not making mistakes. Consistency is key according to Hickman in cleaning that up.
“You can’t just look good here and there,” Hickman said. “You have to be as consistent as possible.” “I think Jeremy [Johnson] She works hard to find that consistency. He has flashes of really good things, but to where we want our football team to be, he has to lead it.”
“Eagle Meat” has been playing in an episode on the Trojan Trail all summer, but on Monday afternoon it had a bit more significance. With it being the first official day of training, Lincoln’s classic start in Nessieville was three weeks away, and expectations remain high for this team.
“We are comfortable with wearing the helmets and getting back on them,” said Troy coach Jimmy Tyson. “We are working through the acclimatization period. The good thing about football these days is that there is no off-season. We always adapt, but we have to follow the rules, the process of getting out of here and the actors.”
Competing by repetition is how Lincoln is looking to get in shape by the time the season rolls around. After stretching, the Trojans quickly transitioned into reps for game mode before breaking off in positional exercises. Depth is something Lincoln feels specialized in and they are looking to push that into practice.
One piece the Trojans have talked about using on both sides of the ball is senior midfielder Raylene Wilson. The Georgian commitment has proven that he can not only handle, but also run. Early in practice, Wilson switched from playing on the line to returning to kickoffs.
Another player adapting to a dual role is senior contestant/wide receiver Demetric Stephens. Last season, Stevens made more appearances at RB, but is looking to have two reps in both in his final year of high school ball.
“I feel confident,” Stephens said. “This is the most confident I’ve felt in my years here.” “Playing in those two positions has been very good. I’m just trying to help the team wherever I can. I put it out there and play.”
Niceville for Lincoln is a specially chosen game. Tyson said he wants to put his team in an intimidating environment early in the season, and be accustomed to having a fight like this all year round. Lincoln is once again setting the competitive schedule with the likes of Niceville, Palm Beach Lakes and Colquitt County on the road.
Stevens said pre-season is a game they are looking to harness the momentum and experience out of going forward.
“We want to take that level of competition and move it into the remainder of the season,” Stevens said. “In these practices, we want to work on playing together as one body, one voice, and we’ll be good to go.”
Many Big Bend soccer coaches have done their first training with new teams, and got a taste of the work ahead of them. On Tharpe Street, Godby coach DeMario Jones works with his team to find rhythm and get everyone on the same page. The first day has hiccups when bringing the team back to the field.
“It went wrong with a set on day one, but you have to get over it,” Jones said. “We’re here to work hard and get better. Nothing else matters other than what we do today and tomorrow. It’s really about getting better today.”
Ambition and excitement are big things to the young Godby team, a strength that Jones believes will help them grow. While there is a great core in this team, a lot of players are progressing to bigger roles when it comes to playing in the league.
One of those top players poised to rise to a bigger role is Kenny Jenkins, the big receiver, who is not only looking to achieve success with his team as a whole but is working towards a college scholarship to play football at the next level.
“I feel really good now,” Jenkins said. “I’m really excited to start the season.” “I’m just really trying to get a view and some meters because I don’t have that right now. I’ve been working hard for all of that this year.”
Getting the little details together and putting them together is key for the Cougars in these three weeks heading into their classic game of Raines. Jones said the game is an opportunity for the team to improve and continue to improve throughout the season. It’s about making a plan and executing it on Friday night.
“Our focus is just working hard and getting ready for the start of the season,” Jenkins said. “We want to make sure all of these mistakes go out the window and that we are disciplined.”
Jack Williams covers the prep sports for the Tallahassee Democrat. Contact him via email at email@example.com or on Twitter @jackgwilliams.
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