Football Coaches Work to Keep Players Safe in Heat

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PANAMA CITY-- August is typically the hottest part of the Panhandle summer.

It's also the kick-off or one of the area's favorite seasons: high school football.

Coaches are working to prepare their players, while keeping them safe from extreme heat.

Two-a-day workouts - they're a dreaded but necessary evil during high school football season.

And after three years, North Bay Haven Charter Academy Senior Cilton Pape says they're routine.

"After a few weeks, you get used to it. It's hard at first, but after a few weeks you start to feel good," he said.

But the Florida High School Athletic Association restricts two-a-days to every other day.

It's part of the state-wide policy designed to protect the players and get them used to training in the heat.

Monday, it's helmets only. On Wednesday the teams will add shoulder pads. But next week, bring out the full pads, because it's time for contact drills.

Coaches agree, player safety is the priority, even if it means an extra week of no-contact practices.

"The main thing is getting used to the heat and making sure everybody's in shape, which we've been doing all summer. But we've been going a lot at night in the summer, so it's a little bit different out here in the sun," Rutherford High School Head Football Coach Rob Armstrong said.

"It's a good thing, because if the guys have never played football before, it gets them used to the heat, wearing pads and a helmet," North Bay Haven Head Football Coach Jared Hale said.

Pape says there's no denying it's tough practicing in the Florida heat.

But his team says the results will be worth it.

"It's gonna be hard. The first couple weeks are gonna be really hard. But just stick with it. Push through it," Pape said.

Both coaches say trainers watch the players during practice and games for signs of heat sickness.

They also say players can take water breaks whenever then need one.