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Comets progress in football drills

If you ask new Halifax County High School Head Varsity Football Coach Michael Roark how much longer it is until his team’s home season-opener against Jefferson Forest High School you will get a quick, immediate answer.

“As of today, it’s 109 days until Jefferson Forest,” Roark noted after the Comets’ on-field practice Monday.

With the Virginia High School League now allowing coaches to work with players during the off-season, Roark, his coaching staff and players are hitting the practice field to gear up for the start of the new season in August.

“We can come out every day all the way up to the first week of July,” Roark pointed out.

“The first week of July is dead, then we can go all the way up until we officially start football.”

Players do not don helmets or pads. Practices center around conditioning and repetitions of various skill sets and offensive and defensive schemes.

“It’s fun, and we’re getting stuff done, more than what we have done in the past,” Roark said after Monday’s session. 

“Today was our first day of defense. Some guys got it right away, and others started getting into it. We know the more reps we give to the kids the more they’ll pick up on it.”

Monday wasn’t the first time the coaches and players had gone out onto the field. The team also had a couple of on-field practices last week, with offense being the focus.

“I’m very pleased with what we have been doing offensively,” pointed out the Comets coach.

“We took some players to a quarterback camp this past Saturday. They’re picking up on the reads real quick. Coach Davis (Comets Head Baseball Coach Kelvin Davis) let some of the baseball guys come over. Tyler Dunn and Tyler Stephens are both great athletes. They’re pleasant things to see on the football field. They picked up the reads and had a lot of fun with it. We know the (pass) routes. We ran the right plays on offense today.”

Roark describes the attitude and work ethic of the players as “awesome.”

“We had 95 kids out here the first day of practice,” Roark said.

“We’ve been having from 75 to 90 kids in the weight room. We’ve also got kids in baseball, kids running track, and we’re still running down and working with some kids that are dealing with some things in the classrooms.

“Coach Vogt has been doing the weight room part of it,” Roark added, “and we’re getting some running in and are getting stronger. It’s been good.” 

Roark said that while he and the team were a little behind in getting started to work on things, he is pleased with the progress that is being made.

“For us being as far behind as we are, we’re making steps to catch up,” he noted.

There is still plenty of work to be done both offensively and defensively. Roark and the coaching staff are making sure that the players are picking things up the right way.

“We’re going to keep it very simple, and be very good at what we do,” Roark pointed out.

“Once we get something really dialed in, we’ll add to it.”

Roark has plans for the team to take part in several seven-on-seven passing contests. The Comets will participate in a multi-team competition Saturday, May 19, at Heritage High School in Lynchburg.

The Comets are also scheduled to take part in a competition at Amherst County High School, and, on June 16, go to Greensville County High School to compete in a competition that will send the winners on to bigger competitions.

“That’s one in which the top two teams can keep on moving on and actually play for a national seven-on-seven title,” Roark said.

“There is also a lineman competition associated with that, and we’ll take about 10 linemen with us along with our seven-on-seven crew.”

Roark said he likes the lineman competitions.

“I try to include the linemen when I can because you don’t want the kids lifting (weights) all winter and then not get a chance to get the recognition they deserve. So we try to get into some linemen competitions as well so they can have some fun too.” 

Roark said his players will be prepared for the upcoming seven-on-seven competitions.

“When we go somewhere we may be very simple, but we’re going to know what we’re doing,” he said. 

“I’m not a very intense seven-on-seven person, but I want the kids to learn from it and I want them to have fun. August will be here quickly enough, and the intensity will pick up, so we can have fun right here now.”