PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - For thousands of young men, Monday was time to don the helmets and head out for the first official day of fall practice in advance of the 2019 season.
First year head coach Keith Bland and his Tornadoes open up fall practice Monday.
Our tour of ballfields, a tour that will take us three weeks to finish, starts at Bay.
First year head coach Keith Bland hit the field with his guys around 9 a.m. Monday morning after a workout in the weight room.
Bay was certainly hit as hard as any program in the area by Hurricane Michael. The school itself and its athletic facilities were damaged extensively, the student population decreased even this fall, which effects roster numbers. Still, Bland says there are 40 to 45 kids out for football (with some of those eventually dropping to J.V.) and those kids are putting in hard work.
"The kids were very loyal to the program, coming in, working hard, getting stronger," Bland said at the start of practice. "We had a good response to it, obviously you want more kids in the mix, but the ones that are here are really dedicated and have gotten stronger in the summer."
By the first day of fall practice, the first year head coach has already made a few adjustments.
"The first few days, I think we worked a little too hard," Bland admitted. "We had to back off of it because we had...some of the few we had on the fringe didn't show up the next couple of days, you know we had a few throwing up early in the summer. But they worked really hard, and it's a commitment to this season and being a Bay High letterman and representing this community and this school by being a Bay High football player."
Bland added the kids appear to have the right attitude, and in fact, seem more calm leading up to the start of practice than he himself was!
"Well, a lot of sleepless nights. You know, you hit July 1, you think 'alright, it's getting pretty close.' And then it's practice at the end of the week. So a lot of sleepless nights, toss and turn thinking about what I need to get done and what's gonna happen. Excited about 15 practices. Then we head over to Freeport on the 16th, and then kick it off and you're into the season. So it's exciting, but still a lot of nervousness about what the season faces."
After that preseason game at Freeport, the season opener for Bay comes at home against Graceville on the 23rd.
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