COVINGTON, Ga. -- Perhaps Eastside High football coach said it best when talking about the anticipation of “pads day.”
“It’s almost time,” Hoff said. “The fake football is almost over.”
With that he was referring to all of the non-pad variations of football work. Whether 7v7s, work in helmets in shorts. Half pad walk-throughs, whatever. Hoff will tell you it has it’s place, but it’s still not the same.
“You definitely learn a lot from 7-on-7s and all those things,” Hoff said. “I’m definitely not downgrading that. But the kind of game football is, you just don’t know what you’ve really got until you line up and put on the pads and get the pads popping.”
And as the Tuesday August 1 marked the first official day that the GHSA allowed for full pad practices, Newton County area football players seemed to be in agreement with Hoff’s assessment.
“We did a lot of hitting today,” Alcovy senior Quindrelin Hammonds said. “A lot of hitting. It was, like, just repetitive. The team energy was really high, and we haven’t gotten after it like that in a long time. You could tell everyone was excited to get back to it. I think it released a lot of tension built up among the team.”
A similar report came from Newton senior safety and Navy commit, Jaison Taylor.
“It was super intense,” said Taylor, regarding the first day in pads. “The game intensity has picked up, and we are clicking on all cylinders as a team. I think we’re on our way to becoming the most physical team on the planet.”
That aspiration has been the calling card of Newton coach Terrance Banks all offseason and all summer long.
“With the kind of size we have up front and the speed we have in other places, I definitely think being the most physical team is an attainable goal,” Banks said.
Eastside running back Taylor Carter also noticed an uptick in the pace and energy of practices once the equipment came on.
“I think pads on the first day separated the football players from just athletes out playing football,” Carter said.
However, the junior tailback did acknowledge that getting back into full contact work does take some getting used to.
“The pads feeling has to come back to our team,” he said. “But when it does, our team will be ready.”
Newton County football fans will have opportunities to get early glimpses of what several teams will be trotting out come mid-August when the season kicks off.
Newton will host defending Class AAA state champion Cedar Grove in a scrimmage at Sharp Stadium this Saturday at 6 p.m. On next Friday, August 11, Alcovy will scrimmage at Miller Grove at 5:30 p.m., and Eastside will travel to scrimmage Walnut Grove at 7:30 p.m.
Each team will begin their seasons the following week with home games at Sharp: Newton will host Drew Thursday August 17, Alcovy will face Duluth Friday August 18 and Eastside will welcome Luella on Saturday August 19, with all games scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff.