By Cameron Hardin
Spring training for the Dodge County High School (DCHS) football team began Monday. For a day one practice before the end of a school year, the intensity level was at level nine, from the minute the chinstraps were buckled until the team ran off the field. Spring training normally begins about a month before high school graduation. The high school football coaches collaborate with the middle school football coaches to work with the up coming freshmen for one week.
This is to make sure that the young men are prepared to join the team in the summer. The leap from middle school athletics to high school is quite a large shock to many young men. Coach Rex Hodges and his staff have an innate ability to begin the molding process into a primed high school athlete. The high school practices for spring begin the following Monday after the middle school has completed their spring training, and their duration is two weeks.
Yes, it is hot, and it normally takes a football team time to “get in the groove”, but these young men have had a rigorous offseason in preparation for this moment. I was lucky enough to steal a few minutes from DCHS football Coach Rex Hodges’ fast paced schedule to catch up on his thoughts for the upcoming season. The mission of this spring training is to find replacements for a lot of the skill personnel that graduated including: two leading rushers, the leading passer and leading pass catcher.
Coach Hodges assured, “There are a lot of opportunities for guys that haven’t started.” In looking for a quarterback, the idea is simple; the coaches plan to get the possible quarterback options a lot of repetitions. As far as the offensive line goes, the center and two guards graduated, so the only returning personnel on the offense are the two tackles and tight end. Speaking defensively, two out of the top three tacklers and the entire secondary needs to be replaced.
Possibly the largest topic discussed in the Georgia football world is the weather and standards enforced. The state of Georgia may possibly be the most competitive arena for high school football in the country, but the humidity and heat are the biggest obstacles to overcome in order to remain successful in this business. In the recent decade, many high school football players have experienced heat strokes and even death due to the heat in the months of football. The Georgia High School Association (GHSA) has many rules and regulations regarding heat index and the standards for practice within guidelines to ensure the safety of the players.
Each school has to have a handheld device called the wet bulb reader that measures the heat and humidity of the current playing field. If the wet bulb reads under 87 the teams can practice in full pads. If the reader reads 90, then the teams have to downgrade from full pads to “shells”, which is helmet, shoulder pads and shorts. Typically the Indians practice in shells during the season anyway. The humidity level in May is not quite so bad, so spring training can have fairly substantial weather for tough practices. The middle of August can become quite breathtaking, which is when the coaches keep a really good eye of the wet bulb reader.
The DCHS coaching family has accepted two new coaches to the staff. Ken Cofer, who was the head coach at Bacon County, now works with the linebackers. Robert Cotton is the head basketball coach, coming to us from Wayne County, and will be working with wide receivers. With Tim Horton leaving, Coach Ted Bellflower has taken the reins as the offensive coordinator. June 4th the quarterbacks will be attending quarterback camp at Middle Georgia State University, and the offensive line will be attending lineman camp there as well starting June 11th. June 20th team workouts will officially begin the summer training schedule.
August 19th the season kicks off with a scrimmage against Vidalia in Eastman.
The Indians have moved in to a new region including: Bleckley County, Dublin, East Laurens, Southwest Macon, Northeast Macon and Washington County.
Coach Hodges says, “I’m really looking forward to this season. I have enjoyed the group we’ve had, and we are looking forward to new challenges.” I am excited about this upcoming season as well. I cannot wait to further this journey with the community.