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Teams begin practice

Escambia Academy players participate in a drill designed to help linemen shed their blocks, during a Monday afternoon practice session.

Escambia Academy players participate in a drill designed to help linemen shed their blocks, during a Monday afternoon practice session.

Local football coaches recently started their preseason practice, stressing a need to improve fundamentals before the start of the school year.

Escambia Academy coach Hugh Fountain said that the Cougars returned to the practice field last Thursday, and have been running “two-a-days.” The team practices in the morning from about 8 a.m. until 10 a.m., and then returns for a later practice at 5 p.m. in the afternoon.

The Alabama Independent Sports Association also allows teams to start full contact on Wednesday, Aug. 5, Fountain said.

“Right now, we’re just focusing on getting the fundamentals down,” Fountain said. “There’s not a lot you can do until you’re in full contact, so we’re doing a lot of teaching and working on the kicking game.”

Escambia County High School coach Royce Young’s Blue Devils held their first day of practice Monday, which is the earliest day allowed by the Alabama High School Athletic Association. The team practiced in helmets and shorts Monday and Tuesday, and will practice in shells (helmets, shoulder pads and shorts) on Wednesday and Thursday.

Friday is the first day that AHSAA teams can practice in full pads and with full contact, Young said.

“We’re trying to get as many of our special teams in place as we can this week,” said Young, who is entering his second season at ECHS. “We’ll start getting a good portion of our offensive and defensive schemes implemented.”

Fountain’s Cougars have high expectations in 2015, as the defending champion in AISA Class AAA. They will open the season on Friday, Aug. 22, when they travel to Montgomery to play AISA Class AA champion Edgewood Academy.

For more on this story, see the Wednesday, Aug. 5, edition of The Atmore Advance.