Early morn workouts become habit

Published 5:00 am Monday, July 27, 2009

In early June, sleepy-eyed players were jarred awake by parentsor a persistent alarm clock. They would groan and roll out of bed,often before the first rooster crowed, welcoming the risingsun.

Eventually, the routine became a habit. Summer football workoutsrequire devotion and dedication. Most teams work out in the earlymorning hours.

At Brookhaven High School, the offseason conditioning programbegan at 6 a.m., Monday through Thursday. Over 70 playersparticipated in the weightlifting, running and agility drills thatfinally concluded Thursday. The benefits are immediate andlong-range.

Ole Brook head coach Tucker Peavey said participation has beenexceptional this summer. The majority of players arrive for the90-minute workouts at 6 a.m. Some of them report for summer jobsafter the workouts. A handful of players arrive later for the 8a.m. session.

Peavey and his coaching staff have a set pattern of workouts forthe players. Linemen and linebackers are in one group. The othergroup is composed of skill players and the defensive secondary.

“One group is in the weight room in the first half (of workouts)and the other group is outside,” said Peavey. “Then they switchit.”

Football players must possess strength and speed to besuccessful. Peavey said, “The strength factor is important. Thestronger and more conditioned athlete you are, the less chance ofinjury.”

Mississippi is notorious for its heat and humidity in the firstmonth to six weeks of the football season. Water breaks aremandatory near the midway point of each 12-minute quarter.

“The weather we have to deal with during August and September isa major factor,” said Peavey. “The workouts help conditionathletes.”

Peavey said the players work on lower body muscles twice a weekand the upper body twice a week. “We change the exercises to keepthe players from getting bored.

“Outside we do sprint conditioning two days and stadium (steps)and agility two days,” said Peavey. “In the last part of July, wewill concentrate on pure conditioning.”

Coaches at most schools provide some type of reward for the mostdedicated players. In Brookhaven’s case, Peavey said a variety ofincentives are provided. “The guys who make the most workouts,we’ve done T-shirts and military dog chain collars.”

Under the new Mississippi High School Activities Association’sreclassification system, Brookhaven has been promoted to Class 5A.Former 5A schools are now Class 6A.

Brookhaven’s Region 3-5A opponents are newcomers Wayne County,Picayune, West Jones, Pearl River Central and Stone County, plusformer Class 4A region foes McComb and Forest Hill.

Athletes Enthusiastic

Senior defensive end Joseph Owens (6-1, 245) is anticipating achallenging season for the Ole Brook Panthers. He has been workingovertime this summer in preparation for the 2009 campaign.

“This is the most we’ve ever ran,” said Owens. “We have a harderschedule. I’ve worked on my stamina.”

Junior center Mitch Case (5-8, 215) was a starter last season asthe Panthers finished runners-up in the region race. He said he hasenjoyed the summer workouts.

“I love it,” said Case. “You get plenty of lifting time andrunning time. By the end of summer, you can really tell that ithelped you.”

Junior tight end Nick Peavey (6-1, 225) said the summer workoutshave been a rewarding experience. “It feels good to be in shape. Weare getting stronger, too.”

Senior defensive tackle Cordai Henderson (6-0, 255) sat on astationary bicycle in the corner of the BHS weight room and pedaledenergetically as teammates labored on various weight trainingmachines, breaking into a sweat. He is rehabbing from a pulledhamstring.

“I’m working hard to get it (hamstring) back right,” saidHenderson. “I’ve been going nonstop.”

Asked about his favorite exercise, Henderson said he liked thepower clean best, because “I get to use my legs and my arms.”

Brookhaven’s first day of preseason drills is Aug. 3. Schoolstarts Aug. 6. The Panthers’ first game is Aug. 28, hostingFranklin County.