HOUSTON – Ready or not, it’s almost time to play football.
And the Houston Hilltoppers have spent a good part of the summer preparing for their opening game Aug. 23.
Team members have spent hours in voluntary workouts with one group meeting at 6:30 a.m. and another replacing them at 8 a.m.
“We have a lot of kids who get in early and get done,” said coach William Cook. “Some of them work or play summer basketball or baseball. The group that comes at 6:30 a.m. is the biggest group.”
The players run through sets of drills that combine several elements of training.
“It’s weights, conditioning, flexibility, it’s all together,” Cook said.
The team can’t get on the field for practice until Aug. 5, but has made the most of the summer to get in top physical shape for the season, even working out during dead week.
Cook said the team members devised their own workout schedule so as not to miss any practice time.
“We couldn’t be here and we couldn’t let them in the field house,” Cook said. “They were on the field doing drills and running. That was team leaders getting them together.”
Rules change, commons sense remains
With less than four weeks of practice until their first game hosting Pontotoc, the Toppers want to be in the best shape possible to battle the August heat on the field.
This season, the Mississippi High School Activities Association has partially suspended a “heat” ruling that created a 7:30 p.m. starting time for games through the end of September. Instead, the home team will have the option of beginning games at 7 p.m. or 7:30 p.m.
“I’m calling all the teams on our schedule to see when they will start,” Cook said. “Our home games will start at 7.”
In the meantime, with temperatures reaching the mid-90s and humidity levels sometimes going past that, Cook and the HHS coaches stress water, water, water, not just on the field but as part of all-around training.
“You have to build up for it before you get on the field,” Cook said. “You can’t spend the weekend drinking cokes and kool-aid and come out here.”