Back to school isn’t weather friendly for Science Hill’s football team.
The Hilltoppers can’t hold early morning practices because the players are in class. So they will just have to battle the elements — including 90-plus-degree temperatures forecast all week.
Adding to the mix is one less week of practice because of the way the calendar fell for teams playing in Week Zero.
“We were already down a week, and have two weeks of practice and then game week,” said Hilltoppers’ head coach Stacy Carter. “That’s one reason we tried to fight to get an extra week, but nobody got it.”
So there’s less time to practice overall, making each day valuable and longer practices necessary in preparing for the upcoming season.
Beating the heat will require some planning ahead.
“It will be a challenge,” said Carter. “We will have a lot of breaks built in. We can’t go two-a-days, so we will go from 3 p.m. to 6.
“(Dobyns-Bennett head coach) Graham (Clark) is going from 4 p.m. to 8, but my coaches are in school and I can’t keep them 15 hours every day.”
Afternoon practice will require a steady effort to make sure the players stay hydrated. Carter said it’s never an easy situation.
TSSAA rules require practice to be halted if the heat index reaches 105 degrees. And water must be kept on hand regardless of the heat index.
“It cuts it close every year (on the heat index),” said Carter. “We keep it monitored and hope we don’t have to shut it down.
“If we did have to shut down, we would have to adapt. We might go indoors some. But you want to get out in it because you have to play in it. We’ve never had to shut down.”
Carter said the team will take breaks every 15 minutes.
“And we will have water constantly,” he said. “It’s not like the old days. We’re lucky we didn’t kill people a long time ago.”
The first week of practice is a time of getting used to the rigors of working out in full gear.
“It’s getting reps and getting in pads,” said Carter. “You have to do a little physical stuff. There’s a fine line because you don’t want to get kids hurt.”
n In one preseason state ranking, Greeneville was tabbed as the favorite to win in Class 4A. And, of course, Alcoa was the pick to win in Class 3A.
That makes their Week 5 matchup in Greeneville a potential “Double State Championship.” Alcoa, which got former Austin-East quarterback D.J. Oggs via transfer, will hold the role of favorite — pending what happens in the first four weeks of the season.
The game is scheduled for Sept. 23, and could set an attendance record at Greeneville.
Other area teams who figure to get some preseason state-ranking love include Elizabethton in Class 3A and Hampton in Class 2A.
n Former Science Hill standout Kevin Nelson will be taking his baseball talents to Virginia Intermont.
He will sign scholarship papers with the school today at 3 p.m. in the 10-12 cafeteria.
Also at the ceremony, Nelson’s former teammate, Daniel Norris, will be presented with the Tennessee Gatorade Baseball Player of the Year Award.
n Former Sullivan East standout Cameron Bawgus recently signed softball scholarship papers with Lee University.
Bawgus was a three-sport standout for East, also performing in volleyball and basketball. In softball she batted .324 as a senior with three homers, 27 RBIs and 13 stolen bases.