Thanks to the Georgia High School Association's new rules prep football teams have already been hard at work on the practice field since Wednesday.
In past years, the first day allowed for practices is typically Aug. 1, however this season teams were allowed to begin a week earlier, without pads. The extra days were meant
to allow teams to get used to the heat.
Eastside not only began practice in shorts and T-shirts on Wednesday, but were also competing in a Carrolton passing tournament on Tuesday.
The Eagles finished the tournament in second place in the 18-team tournament, falling to the host school.
"I thought our kids showed a lot in the conditions and the determination to win," Eastside coach Rick Hurst said. "We just came up a little short at the end."
The Eagles competed in nine games on Tuesday, and have been conditioning throughout the summer in preparation for not only the 2012 season, but also the extreme heat of August practices in Georgia. Due to the Eagles early work, Hurst said he understands the rule changes but feels teams like his are already prepared.
"I think the rules are good for programs that don't do a whole lot in the state but penalizes us that do," Hurst said. "We get cut down to two hours as we get closer, and I understand the rule, but I think it punishes the guys that do the things in the summer and condition the kids all through the summer. To me, you can't condition kids five days and then go out there and practice in this heat."
The Eagles will get back out to the practice field Monday and Tuesday before kicking things off on Wednesday as early as possible.
Eastside will host a midnight madness style of practice, getting things going with a scrimmage in pads at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday.
"It's kind of turned into a tradition here," Hurst said. "We started it when I first got here and we've always had a big crowd."
Hurst asked his players a few years ago if they wanted to continue the midnight tradition, and the vote was a resounding yes, keeping it alive.
"They're tired of going against each other and are tired of not being able to put pads on," Hurst said. "It's been three months since they were able to hit someone and they're ready to get the pads on and get to work."
Eastside will bring a veteran team into the 2012 season, which kicks off Aug. 31 against Newton.
Newton has also been hard at work since Wednesday, in what Rams' coach Cortez Allen said have been good practices.
"The effort is tremendous," Allen said. "Thursday at the end of practices my entire staff really talked up the kids on their effort and the work they put in."
The Rams will begin to work in pads and shorts Monday and Tuesday, before going to full pads Wednesday.
Prior to strapping on the pads, the Rams have had to pass a fitness test, in which they run 16 110-yard sprints. According to Allen, around 90 percent of Newton's players have
already passed the test.
"That was very pleasing," Allen said. "It kind of reaffirms with us the workout and things we were doing during the summer."
Newton has been hard at work preparing its sophomore quarterback Kemani Pittman, for his first ever starting action this season, and thus far is happy with the results.
Pittman will be taking snaps behind a veteran offensive line of three returning starters.
The defensive line is also shaping up to be a strong suit for the 2012 Rams, with Kingsley Ejike and Travon Richardson anchoring the group.
"We're going to be a pretty veteran staff, especially up front," Allen said. "Our strength is going to lie with the strength up front."
Newton will begin its first week of practices in pads a little later than usual to accommodate the high temperatures.
The Rams will take the field on Monday and Tuesday starting at around 6 p.m. and get going at 5:30 p.m. or 6 p.m. on Wednesday.
"Our kids are doing a good job dealing with the heat," Allen said.