Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Football Teams Hit the Field

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Football Teams Hit the Field

Article excerpt

Byline: Stephen Kindland, Clay County Line sports writer

High school football got under way across the state Monday, with cloudy skies yielding relatively mild temperatures for players throughout Clay County.

By Tuesday, the weather shifted back to typical August conditions -- hot and humid -- and coaches were keeping an eye out for signs of heatstroke and dehydration.

Practice sessions at each of Clay County's six public schools have gone without a hitch, and several coaches have expressed optimism about a new season that looks to be one of the most competitive in recent years.

Players were in shorts and helmets through Wednesday, but donned pads Thursday in preparation for contact drills. Once full-contact practices begin, coaches will keep an even more watchful eye on their players' health.

Keystone Heights coach Chuck Dickinson has told his players to weigh themselves before and after each practice to help them monitor weight loss due to dehydration.

"We make sure they get plenty of liquids [during practice]," Dickinson said. "We tell them to stay away from soda drinks, and to drink water or Gatorade between classes."

Dicksinson, who is looking to improve on a 3-7 season, said he has been "real pleased" with the intensity of his players so far.

"They're probably one of the best first two days of practice we've had [in recent years]," he said.

While Dickinson and other coaches are cognizant of heat-related illnesses, they also remain focused on the progress of their players.

Orange Park coach Ted Leasor and his staff have been working hard to break from a string of three straight 2-8 seasons. About 100 players are taking part in the varsity, junior varsity and freshman teams, and an offseason program Leasor implemented in January should help the Raiders put a few wins on the board. …

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