Our next stop on our tour of area high school football practice fields takes us to South Walton, where coach Phil Tisa is working with 35 players on the varsity level.
South Walton gets into full pads and full contact here in week two of fall practice. (WJHG)
The coach and his players moving this week from helmets and shells last week, to full pads and full contact.
Any coach will tell you this is a bit of a dividing line, so many players look good in shells, they may or may not look so good when the serious hitting begins.
With that in mind, you simply can't go all out with the contact, for a variety of reasons, says coach Tisa.
"That part's important but I also think it's important to find that balance. But at the same time, being schools like us and other schools, especially in this area, to do that without getting many people injured. So it's always about finding that balance of how much you can actually hit. Definitely, have overdone it sometimes but I think it's changed over the years. I think the mindset around football and protecting our athletes as much as possible. And then being in a small school you have to adjust."
Starting quarterback Drake Roberts returns, he's a senior, and Tisa says that's part of a good core of returning players, so he feels good about that.
And overall, the coach feels good about the numbers he has heading towards the season, with 12 seniors leading the way.
"I think we're dressing about 35 on Friday nights, feel good about that." the coach said. "Definitely gives us enough kids to practice and to have two sides of the ball filled out. In this area and with our schedule I feel good about that. I'm sure certainly if we're fortunate enough to make the playoffs and run into some of them teams at the top end of 4A, you know we could face teams that have more depth than us. But that's something that we've been used to."
South Walton hosts rival Freeport in a preseason classic a week from Friday then travel to Fort Walton Beach for the regular season opener on the 23rd.
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