Bearcats kick off summer with training and practice

Published 9:47 pm Friday, May 23, 2014

The Bainbridge High School weight room is filled with lineman pushing their bodies, preparing for the physical stress of blocking and tackling for a full 60 minutes. Afterward, coaches bring their tight end prospects outside for pass drills.

Bearcat coach Jeff Littleton would like to make use of passing to a tight end. Figuring out which player can catch a football best is the trick.

This is just a Thursday for the BHS football team as they charge into their summer practice and training. The team began Wednesday.

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Littleton has the players scheduled for practice three days a week in June and four days a week in July. Seven-on-seven practices begin June 10.

“We’re working on strength and conditioning, and we’re working on fundamentals,” Littleton said. “Agilities, balance, all of that stuff.”

Littleton’s focus right now is getting their strength and endurance up before the team even puts on pads. Having the players adapt to the brutal heat of the summer can’t be rushed, either.

“We have to acclimate them to the weather,” Littleton said. “It’s getting hot. We got to be in shape so we can last through a full practice.”

Last year, Bainbridge saw the temperature rise to 99 degrees on June 13, the hottest day of the year. August was the hottest month, with an average temperature of 93 degrees.

Having the players acclimated to the hot weather, both with and without pads on, will help the team build endurance and keep from getting burnt out in the final minutes of the fourth quarter. The test for who can last and perform after a summer of training will come August 15 when the Bearcats scrimmage against the Cairo Syrupmakers. A week later, they scrimmage Pelham.

“We’re getting in condition and shape for the scrimmage games, but the scrimmage games will allow us to get people in the right positions,” Littleton said. “We’ll see them on the field, we’ll see them perform under the lights in front of everybody.”

Littleton noted the scrimmage games don’t go in the record books, so he’s more willing to put players in different positions to see how they perform. As of now, no position is finalized.

“Everything is up for grabs,” he said.

Sophomore tight end Russell Wheeler said last season he only got one pass as a tight end. This year, he’s pushing himself to claim the position again and be a regular target for the quarterback.

“I just keep practicing, keeping the ball in my hands and making sure I’m looking the ball in,” Wheeler said in between rounds of catching passes from a machine. “I’m ready to get back in action.”