Football is near because signs, heat is here

The signs of the pending football season are everywhere.
High school football teams in the area began preseason practice on Monday and from all indications, things have gotten off to a good start.
Not very far away from each other, coaches Jamie Mitchell at Starkville High School and Jeff Terrill at Starkville Academy have led their teams through drills for the last three days. Anyone driving down Lynn Lane early in the morning or late in the afternoon can probably catch a glimpse at what's happening at both sites.
It will be interesting to see how Mitchell and Terrill do in their first years in Starkville. Both men understand there's a long way to go at both places, but they seem to be determined to do what's necessary to see that improvement comes quickly.
With Meet the Team events scheduled within the week and preseason jamborees taking place not long after that, it doesn't leave much time for high school squads to get quality preparation time in. Maybe that's why it seems practice starts earlier and earlier. It just seems brutal to get the players out on the field before the end of July.
Even though the humidity has been pretty tough, the Yellowjackets and Volunteers caught somewhat of a break in the afternoons with clouds developing and the occasional breeze. The warm weather could have been worse and probably will be before the week is over.
It will be important for the coaches to watch players over the next month or so to make sure they aren't getting too hot and that they are drinking plenty of fluids to stay hydrated.
Even though the heat is the main weather concern during football practice, coaches also have to keep their eye on the sky for thunderstorm. The cloud-to-ground lightning from such a storm can be extremely dangerous.
On Monday, SHS coaches and Athletic Director Stan Miller kept a close eye on an approaching thunderstorm cloud which exhibited a pretty impressive display of lightning, but it never got close enough to stop practice. The count between the lightning and the thunder never got much under 10 so there never appeared to be an immediate threat.
The nice thing from the cloud was the wind which cut into the temperature and made for quite a pleasant second session.
"We got so lucky with the weather and we won't get many of these days," Mitchell said Monday. "To get it on the first afternoon certainly helps."
If you have lived in Mississippi long enough, it's understood that football weather here, at least through the first four or five games of the season, is warm and uncomfortable. It's certainly not like the crisp day one would get in Green Bay, Wisc.
Maybe that's why former Mississippi State tight end and West Oktibbeha High School player Donald Lee keeps finding a way to stay with the Packers.

Danny P. Smith is sports editor and columnist for the Starkville Daily News. The opinions in this column are his and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Daily News or its staff.