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Football practice opens

After a spring and summer of off-season workouts, today marks the official start of practice for the Halifax County High School football team.

New Halifax County High School football coach Michael Roark says everyone is anxious to get started.

“Everybody is pretty excited,” Roark said Friday.

“I think there’s excitement for football around here. You can see it in the kids. I’ve had people in the community come up and talk to me about football. That’s good stuff. That means the word is getting out.”

With the Virginia High School League having relaxed its rules regarding off-season workouts and practice, the players that will gather on the practice field today are already far ahead of where they were a year ago. 

“Our offense is already in,” Roark pointed out.

“Our defense is already in. We’re not going to come in on Day One and say ‘here is our offense.’ We’re reviewing and moving on.”

Roark says he is expecting a good turnout for today’s first official practice.

“Varsity-wise, we’re talking 52 to 53 kids,” he said.

“Freshman-wise, right now we’re at 30. We’ll probably see maybe 10 more kids. Our tenth-grade numbers are down a little bit. I’m going to let tenth-graders come out all the way through the first week of school.

“We’ve got to work on the tenth-grade numbers,” he added.

“I’ve got to get back in the hallways and get my coaches back in the hallways and get those numbers back up next year. I’d love to see 50, 40, 40 (for the three teams).  That would be ideal. I think with our numbers here, it is doable.”

The practice routine this week will follow Virginia High School League guidelines. Players will don helmets only today through Wednesday. They will be in shoulder pads and helmets on Thursday and Friday. On Saturday, players will be in full pads.

“I’ll bring the varsity and jayvee (teams) in Saturday morning and have a little scrimmage,” he said. 

“The eighth and ninth-graders (on the ninth-grade team) will start banging it up on Monday (Aug. 6).”

As far as the team’s practice schedule goes for this week, Roark has set practices to run from 3:30 p.m. until 9 p.m. each day, with two practices scheduled between those hours.

The first practice session is scheduled from 3:30 p.m. until 5:30 p.m., with the second session set from 6:30 p.m. until 8:45 p.m.

Roark said he and his fellow coaches expect the players to come in today, and every day, prepared to work hard.

“We need them to practice hard, and we need them to practice fast,” he said.

“I want them to be here on time. I want them to encourage each other. 

“We’re not going to give them any more than they can handle,” Roark pointed out. “We will meet as a coaching staff every night after practice to review what we did that day before we set out for the next day. We need to make sure we’re coaching at a level that they (the players) can pick it up.”

Today’s opening practice will be a little different from many previous opening-day practices.

“Everybody’s going to go for a little run,” Roark explained.

“The first day will be a fitness test. The first thing they will do on the practice field is a timed two-mile run. It will be tough, but the guys that have been running all summer will be alright. The guys who think they can go away all summer and show up in August to start are going to find it tough. 

“We’re going to run it (the two-mile run) and they’ve got to complete it under a specified time,” Roark continued.

“If they don’t, every Monday we’ll run a timed fitness test. You have to be in shape to play football.”