Football kicks off

Published 8:27 am Friday, August 7, 2009

FRANKLIN—It’s official: Fall is over. That is if you’re a high school football player. Football practice officially began on Monday for public and private schools in the area.

It’s the time of year when all teams are 0-0 and hope is in the air. Story lines abounded on the scorching first day of practice:

Franklin High School, last year’s Group A Division 1 state champion, began defense of its state title. Franklin’s practices began at 6 a.m. this week.

Southampton High School will play its first game in the Southside District after years in the Bay Rivers District. The Indians were already running offensive plays on Monday.

Isle of Wight Academy will attempt to get back to the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association state championship game after losing in the final four last year. Coach Dale Chapman had over 60 JV and varsity players out the first day.

Tidewater Academy has a new coach and hopes to break a long losing streak (see accompanying story).

Southampton Academy will try to take last year’s young team and improve in the Virginia Commonwealth Conference. The Raiders stressed technique and fundamentals on Monday.

Windsor, which had competitive teams the last two years, will try to get over the hump and make the playoffs. The Dukes have added Warhill High School and Southampton to this year’s schedule.

Littleton Parker, who has coached at Southampton either as an assistant or head coach for the last 34 years, said he loves this time of the year.

“I love it. I’m out here today, man, I’m just as happy as I can be,” Parker said after Tuesday’s practice. “I can’t think of another place that I want to be than working with these kids. We’ve had some good practices.”

Parker said he has 49 players out for varsity, up from last year.

“You’ve got something you can choose from and you’ve got people pushing people,” Parker said about the higher numbers. “It’s just the kids that we have coming now. The kids want to play.”

The Indians move to the Southside District this fall and Parker acknowledged there would be some tough competition in the new league. “We’re looking forward to it,” he said.

Southampton will keep one Bay Rivers team on the schedule. The Indians will open the season at Bruton on Sept. 4.

The Indians will hold double session practices the first two weeks and then scrimmage at Northampton on Aug. 14.

The season opens a week later than normal this year because Labor Day is later than usual. The private schools open Aug. 28 and the public school teams open the weekend before Labor Day.