At left, Southside head coach Daniel Flowers talks to his team as the Panthers start football practice Monday. --Daniel Evans
At left, Southside head coach Daniel Flowers talks to his team as the Panthers start football practice Monday. -- Daniel Evans

Local teams held their first football practices Monday

Published 9:52pm Monday, August 4, 2014

It’s not time for kick off yet, but local high school teams took the field Monday for their first official practices of the season.

All seven Dallas County High Schools held practices Monday, with the first game of the season only 18 days away for most schools.

“It’s exciting for the coaches and the players,” Southside head coach Daniel Flowers said. “You get on the grass and it gets to your nose and you know it’s football time. It’s Christmas for football coaches.”

There weren’t any actual presents to unwrap, but there was plenty of potential floating around the county.

Two new local head coaches held their first official practices with their team Monday: Dallas County’s Marty Smith and Ellwood Christian’s Eric Martinear — who is working to develop a toughness in his team that may have lacked from previous Eagles’ squads.

Ellwood Christian was sporting brand new practice uniforms — yellow shorts and a black, tight fitting sleeveless shirt — that reflected a new era in Eagles’ football.

“We are Ellwood and we are going to have black and gold on,” Martinear said. “I think that means a lot with every player looking the same with practice gear and game stuff. We will all look the same.”

Martinear even had the logo on the Eagles’ helmets changed. He said Ellwood Christian’s signature eagle logo will now look more lifelike.

But the biggest change might have been Ellwood’s practice schedule. The Eagles had to pass a conditioning test Monday in order to get football practice under way.

“We had our conditioning test this morning and the guys that missed this morning and didn’t pass their test have to pass it this afternoon,” Martinear said. “When they pass it, we will move on to football.”

Players had to finish a long distance run in a certain period of time in order to pass the test, something the Eagles were struggling with a bit.

A third new head coach, Morgan Academy’s Jake Wingo, led the Senators through their fourth football practice of the year Monday. The Senators opened up fall practices Thursday and then went to a team camp in Tuscaloosa this weekend.

Wingo, who coached the Senators’ through the spring, said he can already tell a huge difference in his team in that time.

“This seems like a different football team than what we had in the spring,” Wingo said. “They have a great attitude, so I have been very pleased.”

Wingo said he enjoys the start of a new season, but he knows the Senators have no time to waste this fall.

“There’s a lot of anxiety and you are just ready to get out on the field and get your guys ready to play,” Wingo said. “We are putting a new system in offensively and defensively, so we really have to get the most out of each practice and you can’t waste a day.”

Although Monday was all about players hitting the practice field for the first time this summer, it was also a reunion of sorts for Southside athletic director Cedric Brown, will coach football for the first time in three years this season.

Brown, who will serve as the Panthers’ defensive backs and special teams coach, entertained the crowd at Southside games last year by serving as the public address announcer.

“I guess they are going to have to give me a microphone on the sideline,” Brown joked. “Something has to be done because we have to make sure the fans come to the game and have a good time.”

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