Patrick Burrage charges up through the middle during Neshoba Central's first day of practice.
Patrick Burrage charges up through the middle during Neshoba Central's first day of practice.
Local high school football teams began practice for their upcoming seasons on Monday.

The first week is devoted to conditioning and putting in plays while the heavy work in pads follows next week.

Both Philadelphia and Neshoba Central will be going out in pads on Saturday which is the first day teams are allowed to scrimmage. The Tornadoes will be getting a "very" early start with their annual "midnight special drills" which get under way at 12:01 a.m. Saturday.

"It's something we do every year," Philadelphia Coach Teddy Dyess said. "We'll have meet the Tornadoes earlier in the evening (9 p.m.) and come out for a scrimmage later."

Neshoba Central will take team pictures Saturday morning with a scrimmage to follow. Leake Academy, meanwhile, which started practice on Thursday, August 1, will see its first action Saturday when the Rebels are in a scrimmage at East Rankin Academy.

Here is a report on four of the local teams:

Philadelphia: The Tornadoes spent a lot of time in the weight room this summer and Coach Dyess says it is going to pay off.

"Our participation has been about as good as I have ever had," Dyess said. "We had 39 or more kids who made 25 workouts or more. I was very pleased with that."

Conditioning and going over plays will be the priority during the first week. Philadelphia will be taking a road trip on Saturday, August 17, when they travel to Ole Miss to play Water Valley in a jamboree game. The season opens August 23 with the Tornadoes on the road again against South Delta in Rolling Fork.

Dyess noted that the Tornadoes spent a lot of time playing 7-on-7 football this summer with an emphasis on pass defense.

"We fixed a lot of things," Dyess said. "We have some playmakers in the secondary and I think that will be one of our strong points."

A couple of scheduling notes: The Tornadoes have a new Region 5-3A opponent the new Choctaw County School which is a merge between Ackerman and Weir high schools. Choctaw County came in as a 3A school and that bumped Heidelberg High School down to Class 2A. The Tornadoes will play Choctaw County on November 1. Heidelberg goes into Region 8-2A along with Taylorsville, Bay Springs and Mize.

Also, on August 16, Philadelphia will host a four-team jamboree with West Jones, Bruce, Durant and McLaurin coming in. The action starts at 6 p.m.

Neshoba Central: The Rockets will be looking for a quarterback this fall and Coach Chuck Friend says he has five candidates working at the position.

"It's wide open right now," Friend said. "We are looking at five of our players and we may be going with two or three of them when the season starts."

The Rockets spent a lot of time lifting weights and working on conditioning during the summer and Friend said it will pay off.

"I think we are a lot stronger," Friend said. "Our kids came in and worked hard."

The Rockets' first action will come in a jamboree game at Meridian High School on Friday, August 16. They open the season at Newton County on August 23.

Leake Academy: The Rebels have 45 players on their roster this year, giving them some depth as compared to previous years.

"We are expecting to play a lot of kids this year," Coach Brian Pickens said. "We have some sophomores coming in that we are counting on."

The Rebels open the season August 23 at Copiah Academy.

Choctaw Central: The Warriors were hoping to get everyone together by Wednesday for a couple of two-a-day practices.

"We aren't in school yet and it's hard to get everyone in this early," Coach Troy Savell said. "We'll be working on conditioning and putting plays in this week. We had a good summer of workouts and 7-on-7 and we are looking for improvement this year."

The Warriors play in a jamboree game at Noxapater on August 16 and open the season at Leake Central on August 23.

Union: The Yellowjackets are working toward their season opener August 23 when they travel to Nanih Waiya.