Mother Nature offered up the Bryan County High School football team an early Christmas present Aug. 7.
With the temperatures hovering around the 103 degree mark, the first football practice in full pads looked to be a very hot, steamy miserable one. After a brief thunder and lightning show and a downpour of cool rain, the Redskins finally trotted onto the practice field amidst a surprising, yet pleasant cool breeze and temperatures in the upper 80s.With a pep in his step, and a sense of relief in his voice, head coach Ron Lewis anxiously awaited his players for this full pad practice as he took the field, knowing they better take advantage of this blessed afternoon of cooler weather. It may be easy to run around on a practice field in just shorts and a jersey, but when the full armor of the gridiron calls – well, that is when the rubber meets the road.
Lewis’s main focus on this first day of contact was simple – "to teach the fundamentals of contact and getting the guys comfortable in contact. If the guys are not sure of themselves in contact it is easy to get themselves hurt or hurt someone else."
The Redskins offensive line was hit hard by graduation, leaving some open spots and some big shoes to fill, and Lewis knows that is probably his biggest challenge heading into fall practice.
"Our biggest challenge will be replacing our entire offensive line, but I am pleased with the guys that are working in those positions," Lewis said. "They are not as big as some of the linemen last year, but they are quicker. They are aggressive too."
Coming off a 5-6 record from last year that included a first round state playoff game, this year’s young Redskin squad will have to establish an identity of their own as they head into this 2008 season.
"We are young and have some growing to do," Lewis said. "We will probably struggle some early in the season and we know that. We are just going to keep on working hard and teaching and hopefully by the time we hit Region play we will be ready to make a run at the playoffs."
Most teams look to their senior class for leadership, but when asked about the leaders on this year's squad, the first word out of Lewis’ mouth was ‘juniors.’
"I am getting some strong leadership from our junior class, led mainly by Joe Jenkins," Lewis said. "They are out here motivating and supporting the younger guys and I appreciate that."
The Redskins open their season at home against cross-county rival Richmond Hill on Aug. 29. Prior to that is a Aug. 22 home scrimmage versus Metter.