The opening day of preseason football practice does not normally subject players to a tough opponent, but Port Allen – and virtually every team across Louisiana – faced a formidable foe Monday.
The opponent came in the form of summer heat, with temperatures soaring into the mid to upper 90s – and a heat index near 110.
The Pelicans kicked off their preseason football drills with the usual strenuous round of workouts in preparation for the 2019 season, but the challenges from the scalding conditions prompted coaches to take precautions, Coach Don Gibson said.
“Our biggest thing was to make sure we take care of our players, so we modified a lot of things in practice, making sure to keep an eye on the players,” he said. “It’s something we hold all of our coaches to doing, but at the same time continuing to follow a lot our game plan for practice.”
Endurance played a major role in the opening slate Monday, which fits well in light with the stifling heat which usually continues until mid to late September.
“It’s a testimony to the team that they’re learning to push through the heat and fight the adversity, and that heat was adversity,” he said. “I was pleased with the effort because even in those conditions, our guys did a great job.”
The Pelicans spent time in running drills outdoors in preparation for the season, which also gave PAHS a chance to show Gibson and the rest of the coaching staff the progress they made in conditioning over the summer.
The preseason drills also gave Gibson a better look at the overall progress of the offense and defense, something that impressed him in May during the spring game.
“We still have some things we need to work on, but I like where we’re headed and I like the attitude of the guys,” Gibson said. “A lot of things I saw yesterday make me feel very good about where we’re heading this season.”
The team’s ability to quickly adjust to the new offensive scheme should dictate how his team will figure into the mix in a district that also includes district contenders Dunham and Episcopal, along with a much-improved East Feliciana.
“This is Year Three, and the players know what to expect,” he said. “Things are where they need to be, and our numbers are up to 50, after being to down in the thirties last season, so things are looking up for our program.”
The Pelicans will continue afternoon drills until Thursday, Aug. 22 when they host Loranger for a preseason scrimmage.
PAHS will tangle with Class 4A foe Assumption in the St. James Jamboree on Aug. 30. The Pelicans begin regular season action Sept. 6 against arch-rival Brusly.