By JOSH FRYE
As the oven outside heats up to more than 100 degrees, J.U. Blacksher’s Bulldogs can still be found sweating it out in anticipation of the start of the 2019 football season.
With the coming of summer comes the high temperatures, and with the coming of football season come the pre-season workouts and practices that help build, unite, improve and prepare a team for the fight that is about to come.
Last season the Bulldogs reached a playoff position only to fall out early. They are hoping to drastically change that end result this season.
“Our goal is to reach the playoffs again,” JUB head coach Wes Sims said. “This time, however, we are shooting for a different result and want to take it all the way.”
Over the past few weeks the Bulldogs have been hard at work reaching for that goal and preparing for the season opener against McIntosh in August. Since the conclusion of the school year, the Bulldogs have been hard at work in the weight room.
“We have been working on getting stronger,” Sims said. “We have been lifting and conditioning and at this point we are preparing for 7-on-7 drills to begin over the next week. The purpose of 7-on-7 drills is to help equip the quarterback and lines for real game situations and movements.
These drills are crucial in preparing the experience-filled team for what is about to come.
“We are the strongest that we have ever been,” Sims said. “We have some great players and a team full of experience.”
The Bulldogs have struggled on the offensive line over the past few seasons, according to Sims. But the tide seems to be turning in JUB’s favor as this year’s offensive line is a much stronger one.
“J.T. Tucker is one of our strong players this season,” Sims said. “We have been able to send Tucker to some prospecting camps over the summer and have plans for a few more before the start of the school year.”
Tucker, a senior wide receiver, posted a combined total of 1,200-yards for the Bulldogs last season. He rushed for almost 400 yards and had 800-plus yards receiving.
According to Sims, Tucker has already attended camps at West Florida, South Alabama and North Alabama.
“Plans are to send him to camps at Alabama State and Southern Miss before the season as well,” Sims said.
Along with Tucker comes a slew of other players who will be contributing to the Bulldogs offensive and defensive lines.
“We have so many kids who are working hard at this point,” Sims said. “We have some who will not make the cut but have others who come in and give it everything that they have.”
The Bulldogs are currently working on conditioning on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Morning workout sessions are followed by afternoon sessions on these days.
While many of JUB’s students are enjoying the summer break, these young men are hard at work preparing for the Friday night battles they are about to face.
But for any football team, the enemy during the summer is heat.
Over the past week, temperatures in our local area have soared to over 100 degrees with heat indexes reaching to 110 degrees.
The extreme heat creates heath dangers and problems during outside workouts, and measures have been taken to prevent injury.
“We have been sticking close inside for the most part,” said Sims. “We go out late in the afternoon when temperatures cool down to a bearable degree and we make sure that the guys stay hydrated.”