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A Good Opening Day

Practice officially started for the Halifax County High School and Halifax County Middle School football teams Monday with coaches at both schools being greeted with impressive numbers and a good attitude among players. Halifax County High School head varsity football coach Dave Wojtecki had 87 varsity and junior varsity players on the field Monday for the start of what would be three consecutive days of two-a-day workouts.

Frank Shealy, the head coach of the Halifax County Middle School football team, had 75 players on the field for his team’s opening practice on Monday night, with more players expected to join the team by today.

For Wojtecki, who is beginning his first season as head coach of the Comets, the 87 players was right at the number that he had expected to see.
“Our numbers were where we thought they would be,” Wojtecki said.

“Almost everybody that has been here lifting (weights) and running all summer were here today. We had a couple of guys show up that we weren’t expecting, and they decided it wasn’t for them.”

As far as the work ethic of the players during Monday’s two sessions was concerned, Wojtecki said he was very pleased.

“I thought effort-wise the kids gave us everything they had,” he remarked.

“As long as they keep putting forth the effort and just fly around, I think we will be fine.”

Wojtecki said the two-a-day workouts that have been scheduled through today are pivotal for both the coaching staff and players.

“Obviously, if we as teachers had had to go into school to work today, we would not have gotten in half of the things and accomplished half of what we accomplished today,” Wojtecki explained.

“From a teaching standpoint, today was great. We got our whole defensive scheme installed. We got all of our base defense, all of our blitzes and all of our goal line defense put in today. Offensively, we got two of our six formations, two screen plays, and two run plays in. Also, all of our passing offense is totally in.

“We were able to get in one whole offensive practice and one whole defensive practice,” Wojtecki continued, “have a half-hour meeting of offense, a half-hour meeting of defense and a half-hour meeting on special teams. This was very valuable time that we got in today.”

Wojtecki entered opening workouts concerned about not having enough younger players to justify having a stand-along ninth-grade football team. He still had that concern after Monday’s session.

“Only a couple of new junior varsity players and ninth-graders showed up,” Wojtecki said.

“They called it quits. They didn’t make it through the conditioning test. I’m going to give it a couple of more days before I make a final decision, but I think we’re looking at having two programs (varsity and junior varsity) this year.”

Lions Football Team Welcomes 75 To Tryouts

The Halifax County Middle School football team welcomed about 75 athletes to the first day of tryouts, with close to 90 eventually coming, according to head coach Frank Shealy.

“We’ll try and get our practice uniforms together this week and start hitting next Monday.  That will be the tell-tale sign, because I want to give them a chance to hit at least one day before making cuts,” said Shealy on Monday.

Shealy said he had a good distribution of players with 20-30 seventh-graders, 20-30 eighth-graders and 12-15 sixth-graders at tryouts, about what he expected.

“We’ll try to learn pretty much all the plays this week and use the time without pads to fine-tune some fundamentals, because we have a lot of new players,” noted Shealy.

“We have only 22 returning players and 50 new guys who haven’t worked with us.”

Shealy said he had a lot of skill players, including those trying out for wide receiver and defensive back at the first day of tryouts, but he noticed a shortage of lineman in terms of quantity, not quality.

“I knew about our returning players from the low numbers of sixth- and seventh-graders who tried out last year, said Shealy.

“Monday evening, we’ll make an initial cut and see where the numbers stack up at that point.”

“Usually it takes two cuts, and I want to get down to 60, because we have that many uniforms, and next Wednesday evening if not before I hope to have a team.

“We need a lot of work and that’s what we’re focusing on this week, repetition and learning plays, and we have very little time to work with, not much at all because of the number of new players,” he continued.

“We had such an advantage last year with the large number of returning players and we were way ahead at this point.

“We’re behind the eight ball this year and it’s a matter of coaches putting players in the right spots.”