NEWBERRY, S.C. - With temperatures approaching 110 degrees on the turf at Setzler Field, the Newberry College football team held its first practice in preparation for the 2008 season today. One hundred and twenty-four (124) players reported for preseason camp Monday, with practice beginning Tuesday.
"The older kids looked good, the young kids made some mistakes that are normal," head coach Zak Willis said of Tuesday's practice session. "Overall, it was a very solid first day."
Since the installation of the artificial surface at Setzler Field in the summer of 2006, heat at the afternoon practice session has been a common concern, but Willis said his team is handling the elements well thus far.
"We have very intense practices and we always practice that way," Willis said. "We are trying to monitor the players, always looking to do things to help them out in the elements. We're making sure they get plenty of water, but we still won't know a lot until the pads come on later this week."
Although it was only the first practice session of the preseason, Willis said a certain position group stood out with their effort Tuesday.
"The defensive line, purely athletically, looked really good today," Willis said. "I don't know what that means without the pads on, but overall we were an impressive group today. We've got to see how we react when we've got pads and we get tired; we have to make sure we execute and do things the right way.
"Our leadership has been outstanding, as has been our pace and our coaching. My assistant coaches had things very well organized and I think today's practice was at the same level as the first day of the last two seasons, but until we have a scrimmage, we won't know for sure," Willis added.
Newberry will continue to prepare for the 2008 season opener with two-a-days for the next three weeks. The scarlet and gray will begin the regular season August 30 at Setzler Field against defending national champions Valdosta State. Kickoff is slated for 1:30 p.m. For ticket information, please call (803) 321-5101.