By Donald Heath
Special for the Effingham Herald
SPRINGFIELD – Effingham County and South Effingham athletes had a chance to put sports on the back burner this week, thanks to the Georgia High School Association's "dead week."
The governing body for its membership designated two "dead weeks" during the summer – the week of Memorial Day and the week of the Fourth of July – to halt practice statewide.
After 10 days off, athletes return to their summer schedules on July 10.
"I hope the kids rest. I hope they spend time with their family," ECHS football coach John Ford said. "It's nice to get away from football for a little bit. The coaches need it, too. You want everyone coming back refreshed and eager to get after it."
The football season isn't far away. Football will have two weeks of summer practice before a GHSA mandated acclimation period (five consecutive practices in helmets) before the pads come on July 31.
"Most kids work out during the summer, but it's a safeguard for those who don't," said Ford about the acclimation period.
Both the Rebels and Mustangs open their football schedules on Aug. 18. ECHS will play host to Richmond Hill and SEHS is home against Vidalia.
Neither Ford nor Mustangs coach Loren Purvis eased into the dead week. The Rebels scheduled an OTA (organized team activity) with four teams in Springfield on June 29, but only Johnson High School could attend the 7 on 7 workout.
SEHS went to Camden County for a two-day padded camp, which added linemen and THUD contact (contact above the waist with players staying on their feet).
Purvis gave his players the day off on June 29.
Ford said the work against Johnson was welcomed. Ford said he struck a coaching relationship with former Atom Smasher coach Kenderrick Bonner while coaching at the Border Bowl (an annual all-star game in Savannah) to produce the unlikely pairing for 7 on 7 work.
Despite temperatures soaring into the 90s, the action was spirited.
"You get good competition against somebody else and (Johnson) has good skill players," said Ford, who used the time to get in 10 to 12 freshmen along with many rising sophomores.
Linemen also saw one-on-one work.
The Rebels have attended 7 on 7s hosted by New Hampstead and Savannah State in Savannah.
South went to Statesboro for 7 on 7 competition earlier in June.
Ford said ECHS will be road warriors in the upcoming weeks. The Rebels will have a workout at The Citadel in Charleston, SC, on July 13 and five days later will attend an OTA at McIntosh County Academy in Darien.
The Mustangs will hold their annual Lift-a-Thon fundraiser on July 29.
The first day of school for ECHS and SEHS is Aug. 3.