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Benefield: Empire football season begins

  • The Montgomery High School football Ke' Shawn Walker, left, does a plank with his teammates during the first day of practice, Monday, August 11, 2014. (Crista Jeremiason / The Press Democrat)

There is a trick to making the sled move.

You don’t have to be big but you and the guy next to you and the guy next to him have to work together to push the pads and steel frame across the grass. It’s hard to do when you are tired.

Late in Montgomery High School’s first official practice of the 2014 football season Monday, the sled wasn’t moving. The Vikings were on the ground — doing push-ups.

Montgomery High School Football

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Get the snap count wrong? Hit the ground. Everybody. Even the guys standing in line who had nothing to do with the mess up. The Vikings must have done 60 push-ups when player after player jumped the line too soon.

That’s when senior quarterback R.J. Flores stood up and urged his teammates to concentrate, listen and communicate.

“We’ve got to focus, guys! We’ve got to focus,” he said. “It’s not the push-ups part, it’s the jumping part.”

Monday marked the official start of the Empire football season — the day when months of conditioning, weights and skill drills culminate in full pad practices with an eye toward opening day and the season ahead. The day when coaches and players use months of workouts to gauge where the squad is and where it might go this season.

The Vikings, as well as squads across the Empire, strapped on their pads and marched onto the field to the unspoken: “Here we go.”

It’s also the day documents are due: physicals, permission slips and other forms. No paperwork? No play. Montgomery High athletic director Dean Haskins stood on the edge of the field, a sheaf of pink and white papers in his hand making sure that all athletes were cleared to play.

The five who didn’t have their documents? They spent the two-hour practice running around the outside of the field, looking suitably miserable. From here on out, it’s all business.


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