Cougars, Cowboys seek to build
As football practice begins to hit its stride, one High Point team is looking to build off its best season to date while another is starting anew. Both are preparing hard to have successful seasons.
High Point Christian, in its fourth year at the varsity level (sixth overall), looks to build off its first playoff appearance in program history, while Southwest Guilford, with new coach Eric Rainey, seeks improvement following a one-win season.
“I thought our first day was the best first day we’ve had in our brief six-year history,” said Cougars coach Steve Lechner, who has headed the program since its beginning. “... It starts in the offseason, and I think Day 1 reflected our offseason preparation.
“I really sense that the kids will gain from the experience of making the playoffs but having a disappointing result. In past years, I don’t think that lesson would carry over. But I see the carry-over with these guys, and that’s really important.”
Both teams, for the sizes of their schools, have had pretty good numbers. The Cowboys, of the NCHSAA 4A, have had about 90 players (55 varsity/35 JV), while HPCA, of the NCISAA 3A, have had about 35 varsity-only players.
The Cougars worked hard in the offseason — highlighted by the new Elite 11 program (the top 11 players are rewarded for their performance in 10 events), as well as 7-on-7s and passing scrimmages — as did Southwest heading into the official start of practice.
The Cowboys also held voluntary summer practices to begin installing the basics of their offense and defense — which have been simplified, Rainey said — and build a solid foundation for the upcoming season.
“The kids have been working hard, and everything’s been going well,” Rainey said. “We’re working on our primary offensive stuff and our base defense. We’re dabbling in blizting, but, for the most part, we’re going to be very simple on offense and defense.
“We’ve been able to witness what we did in the summer has paid big dividends. The kids are able to stay focused, they’re not gassing out as soon. We’ve had 80, 85, 90 consistently all summer, and it’s made a tremendous difference.”
Both teams practice with helmets, jerseys and shorts, following both NCHSAA and NCISAA rules, for two days; then they add shoudler pads but still without body-to-body contact for three days; and then full pads and contact from then on out.
HPCA went 5-6 overall and 3-3 in the Central Piedmont Football Conference last year, falling in the first round of the playoffs, while Southwest was 1-10 overall and 0-6 in the Piedmont Triad Conference.
The first game of the season will be Aug. 23, with the Cougars visiting Village Christian and the Cowboys travelling to Rockingham County.
The estimated number of players for T.W. Andrews in Friday’s edition was low. The Red Raiders actually had about 85 players (60 varsity, 25 JV) for the first day of practice, coach Rodney McKoy said in a phone call late Thursday after the print deadline.
Also, in regards to a question about the photo of Andrews running back Rontei Wilkes, it was taken Wednesday on the final day of summer practice. Players can wear shoulder pads during summer practice. Once school-year practice began Thursday, players went back to just jerseys and shorts for two days.