High school football

Brindlee Mountain football players get fired up early in Monday's first day of practice.

“Too much Xbox!”

That’s what head coach Lee Ozmint hollered at some of his Arab players as they struggled with wind sprints during Monday’s official opening day of high school football practice.

To be fair to the players, the heat and humidity had a lot do with their struggles on Monday, too, not to mention a long first day. There was a short workout in the morning and a longer, more draining one in the blistering heat of the afternoon.

Meanwhile, down the road, Brindlee Mountain head coach Keith Garner welcomed nearly 20 players and two new coaches to the Lions’ first practice. Early emphasis was on punt coverage as new assistant coach and special teams coordinator Tim Hodson lectured the players on the importance of kick coverage to the team’s success in 2019.

Punt coverage – or a general lack of it – hurt the Lions a lot last season.

Garner didn’t expect to have his full squad on the field until the start of the school year today.

Arab had most – but not all – of its expected 75-plus players on the field Monday – and those who missed will be expected to catch up with their conditioning work when they report, Ozmint said.

Ozmint was displeased with the first day of practices but certainly not discouraged. In fact, he admitted afterward he expected as much, knowing how much conditioning work was in store for his Knights.

“I don’t think I have to tell you this, but that was not a good practice,” Ozmint told the players at the end of a long day. “But we’ll get better (Tuesday).

“I did see some effort, and that’s something to build on. I was pleased with that, but not the execution.

“Everything is a little bit harder when you’re gassed.”

Ozmint said he and his staff will push the players in practice as they get in better shape.

“You’ve got to fight through fatigue,” he said. “We’re going to put you in stressful situations. It’s easy to fall apart but we’re going to get it done together.

“Together, we rise.”

Still, Ozmint aimed a message at some of the players who had a particularly tough time.

“Some of you played a little too much Xbox over the break, I can tell,” he said.

“The good news is, we’ve got tomorrow. We don’t play this week. This week, we get better.”

Arab plays at Boaz on Aug. 23. The Knights play at home against West Point on Aug. 30.

Ozmint did announce that, because of some problems with the field at the SportsPlex, no games will be played there until the West Point game.

That essentially affects Arab Junior High’s season-opening jamborees against Hartselle (scheduled for Aug. 22) and the first games (seventh and eighth grade teams) at home against Fort Payne (Aug. 27). Those will be played at the old stadium on the Arab High campus.

Brindlee Mountain opens at home against Asbury.

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