Starkville Academy football coach Jeff Terrill, middle, observes the offensive line work during the first day of practice Monday. (Photo by Kim Murrell, SDN)
A 7 a.m. football practice is something some high school students don't tackle with a lot of enthusiasm.
For the Starkville Academy football players, Monday's first football practice of the year was something they were anticipating.
"It's always a little exciting to get started," SA head coach Jeff Terrill said. "The kids come in really excited to get going. (The attitude and energy) were real good."
There was a lot of clapping, screaming and encouragement from the Volunteers as they finished up their hot two hour practice at around 9 a.m.
Starkville Academy is coming off an appearance in the 2011 Class AAA, Division II State Championship game where it lost to Washington School.
It has been over two months since spring drills ended so the first couple of practices for Terrill's squad will be like easing into a cold swimming pool.
"You always have to take those first steps first, right alignments, snap counts, getting assignments down and you have new guys that have a lot to learn," Terrill said. "It lets you know after the first practice you have an awful lot to do.
"It is getting everybody pointed in the right direction. Usually teams get better when they kind of learn the routine. You have to understand what practice is going to be like with the tempo, the schedule and the things that they are doing. It's like taking those baby steps first, and then it picks up in a hurry after that."
Practice ended with a 15-minute conditioning period, where it was obvious fatigue was setting in. Terrill and the rest of the coaches pushed their players and some players stepped up vocally.
"I think we are in good shape from where we are right now," Terrill said. "We have some work to do there, but we are pleased with where that is."
The first couple of days are in shorts and t-shirts so it is hard to gauge who is distancing themselves, but Terrill did praise a couple of his players.
"I work mostly with the offensive line so I was real pleased with Cole Phelps," Terrill said. "He seemed to move around well and know what he's doing."
Phelps, a senior, will be anchoring the offensive line for quarterback Drew Pellum. Colby Runnels will be one of the main tailbacks.
"Drew caught my eye running the option some," Terrill said. "I like the way Colby Runnels hit it a time or two. It's really too early to give a lot of props to anybody yet."
The Vols hit the practice field again late in the afternoon as a part of the two-a-days approach. Setting the offense will be Terrill's objective.
"We will really focus on the offensive side of the ball these first two practices," Terrill said. "Just trying to get some of the base things down and get them going."
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