LIVE OAK, Fla. — Lafayette High football coach Mark Beach could be mistaken for a school child.
At least when it comes to summer.
“I think everybody has the same feelings that the summer is not really long enough,” Beach said Monday, a week before the summer officially ends for the Hornets with fall practice kicking off.
“We’re excited to get started.
“Overall, we’re ready. We’ve got some guys that I’m kind of excited to see how they’ve grown from spring.”
Beach is definitely not alone among area coaches that are excited to see their teams in action and to get the season underway.
Branford coach Tim Clark said the summer has been a productive one for the Buccaneers as well. Still, he too, is itching to see how all that hard work put in pays off.
“We’ve had good gains in the weight room, great attendance, so just looking forward to getting everyone together and putting it on grass and see what happens,” Clark said.
“We’ll be running the same things on offense and defense, so we’re not really looking to see how any changes are going to be made there, but it is going to be about finding those pieces that fit into our system, those are going to be different.”
While Branford and Clark aren’t changing schemes, more than key players will look different in Hamilton County this fall. Veteran coach Richard Vester was hired in December, the Trojans’ fourth head coach in three years and fifth since HCHS played for a state championship in 2014.
With him comes a new offense as the Trojans transition from more of a spread attack a year ago under interim coach Doug Clayton to the wing-T.
Vester also has been impressed by the Trojans’ work the past couple of months.
“We’ve had a great summer,” he said. “It’s been, the kids have worked extremely hard and consistently throughout the summer. I’ve really seen a change in their attitudes and the effort level, the encouragement for each other, all those things.
“We still have a long way to go but I like the direction we’re going in.”
And if the summer wasn’t long enough for Beach and the other coaches, there probably won’t be as much time as they’d like prior to their first games either.
After the acclimation period next week — teams aren’t allowed to don full pads for a week to allow players to get accustomed to the heat — there is just one week of pads prior to school starting in the area Aug. 12. That is followed by Classic games Aug. 16 and the regular season beginning a week later.
“It goes from 0 to 100 real fast,” Beach said of the compressed preseason fall schedule. “The first 3-4 games of our schedule are pretty competitive for us at the 1A level.
“We’ve got some work to do. We’ve got a lot of work to do and a little bit of time to prepare for all those guys.”
Clark will try to make the most of that short time period as the Bucs will head to Camp Blanding for a four-day camp Aug. 5-8.
“We’ll do our camp over there, get them out of town a little bit, away from distractions and just do football for four days,” he said. “I’m looking forward to that. That’ll be the first four days of contact and that’s always very telling to see how they are, the mentality of the team as a whole. That’s a grind.”