Published 12:02 am Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Area football teams starting to end practice

Atmore area football coaches said Friday that spring practice went well, and each team is looking forward to the 2017 season.

For some two weeks, Escambia County, Escambia Academy and Northview have been hitting the field for the unofficial start of a new football season.

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For ECHS, the Blue Devils have a few more days to go, and will wrap up the spring season this Fri., May 19, in a game at Flomaton. Kick off is slated for 7 p.m.

“It’s been a good spring,” ECHS head football coach Rico Jackson said. “The kids have improved drastically since day one.”

Jackson credits the way the players have practiced and them learning things quick as the root of their success.

“They did well,” he said. “Every day, they worked their tales off. We’re excited about the summer and the next phase of the program.”

The Blue Devils will start summer workouts the last week of May and will go three days a week. Each week will include weight training, conditioning and football work.

“That’s the backbone of the season,” Jackson said.

For EA head football coach Hugh Fountain, spring practice is a good tool to evaluate the players who are returning and see which players have improved from last year.

“We’re excited about the prospects we have,” Fountain said. “We feel good about the group we got. A couple we have got injured.”

Fountain said the keys to success, especially during spring and in the summer, lie in the weight room and on the field.

“We’ve got some work to do in the off season,” he said.

The Cougars’ spring game was canceled last week because of the weather.

Fountain said the team will start workouts the first week of June, and will lift three days a week.

Additionally, EA will play in the SECIS Kickoff Classic on Aug. 12 against First Baptist School of South Carolina in Mongtomery. The Cougars played First Baptist in the same kickoff classic last year. FB won its state championship last season.

“That’ll be a big game for us,” Fountain said about the kickoff classic.  “We’re pretty excited about the schedule next year.”

EA won’t start its fall practice until the last week of July.

Fountain said since the spring game wasn’t held, he already told his players to go ahead and get their minds turned to next season.

“When you lose in the state championship game (last season against Autauga Academy), obviously, you’re not guaranteed to go back,” he said. “I feel like we have a good nucleus coming back. I feel like when you have that, you have a good mind set coming back that says you would like to have nothing more than the focus to go back and play in (the championship) again.”

For NHS head football coach Derek Marshman, spring practice is his favorite time of the year.

“In the fall, you focus on yourselves but you have opponent,” Marshman said. “In the spring, you’ve got a name of an opponent. Really, you get 20 days to focus on yourself. That’s such a huge time, especially for freshmen and sophomores.

“We had one of our better weeks of practice (last) week,” he said. “The players had high energy and high execution.”

The Chiefs will start summer workouts May 25 and will go four days a week from 8 a.m. until noon each day.

Marshman said it’s a grueling schedule, but it pays off during the season at key moments in games.

“That’s kind of where we almost feel like we have to outwork everybody,” he said. “We kind of hang our hat on that, when there comes a time in year and it’s a tie game and we have our backs against wall. Summer is a big part of the process as far as the players’ physical and mental development.”

NHS will play its spring game on Tues., May 23, at home against Jay, Fla., at 7 p.m.