• 84°

Demanding workouts challenge Panthers

While many teenagers sleep until noon during their summervacation, many football players are following a different routine.In Brookhaven High School’s case, the Panthers are greeted by therooster’s crowing serenade when workouts begin in earnest at 6a.m.

The grueling, 90-minute workout, featuring a series ofweightlifting and running exercises, is held four days a week.There is no shortage when it comes to participation.

According to Ole Brook head coach Tucker Peavey, over 90 playershave participated on a given day. There is a later session,starting at 8 a.m. and going to 9:30, but players prefer the coolertemperatures before the scorching summer sun rises higher in theeastern sky.

“We have had a good number of kids every day,” said Peavey. “Weaverage about 75. We have had as many as 90 to 95.”

The attrition rate is low. Players are accustomed to workinghard to achieve goals on the gridiron. Those who have jobs are ableto complete their workouts before joining the workaday world.

“Kids have a lot of conflicts in the summer with church campsand vacations,” said Peavey. A few elect to give up football ratherthan participate.

“We have a few disappointments when kids miss,” he added. “Wewish they were more committed.”

The daily routine is well-structured. Peavey and his assistantcoaches oversee each drill, either in the weight room oroutside.

In the weight room, two days a week, the players develop upperbody strength. Two days are reserved for lower body work.

The weight work lasts 45 minutes. Some of the core lifts arebench press and incline press for the upper body. Peavey employs avariety of lifts to keep the players focused at each station.

“We rotate lifts, like military press, push press, curls, shrugsand triceps extensions,” said Peavey. Lifts for the lower bodyconcentrate mainly on the squat and power clean.

“Obviously, the stronger athlete you are, the better athlete youwill be,” Peavey pointed out. “You have to get yourself in aerobiccondition before practice begins. You have to be in shape beforepractice starts.”

Temperatures often exceed 100 degrees inside the helmet when aplayer dons full football equipment. Conditioning is critical to astrong performance during a 48-minute football game in thesweat-soaked August and September Friday nights.

Outside on King Field, the players do plyometrics, agility,flexibility and conditioning drills.

Plyometrics features explosive exercises, like jumping boxes andfoot drills. Flexibility develops moveability

Players also run the home side’s stadium steps, plus performinga series of one and two-legged hops. There is a lateral orside-step run which also goes to the top of the stadium. Sprints onthe track include 220s, 100s, 60s, 40s and 20-yard sprints.

“We mix it up to give the players some variety,” said Peavey.”We are trying to develop a better athlete.”

Still enjoying the benefits of the 2004 state championshipseason, Brook’s football program attracts a large number of playerseach year. Most have visions of winning another state title.

“The attitude of our players has been real good,” said Peavey.”I’ve been very pleased with them.”

Workouts conclude this Thursday. Players will get a week offbefore they begin preseason practice Aug. 6. The Panthers will hosta jamboree Aug. 23, featuring McComb, Laurel and Wayne County.Their 2007 season kicks off Aug. 31, versus North Pike.