MACON, Ga. — Central Georgia is just over a month away from the first kickoffs of the high school football season. Teams are still preparing and using 7-on-7 scrimmages as an excellent way to measure how their squad matches up with the competition.
One such competition was held at the Ed Defore Sports Complex, Tuesday. Coaches like ACE Charter's Jason Stephens and Crawford County's Craig Puckett are putting the finishing touches on the offseason workouts.
"We try to start fine tuning. Take out certain things out of the playbook that we don't think will work very well or in our favor," Stephens said.
"Being on time and doing the little things, hustling on and off the field, keeping your helmet on. All those are the small things that build into the bigger process," said Puckett.
One thing you can't teach is competition. It's a trial by fire. That's why coaches enjoy going head to head with 7-on-7s in the summer.
"They get excited, no matter what school you go to. They get excited to play somebody else. It's nice to see another color uniform and see some other athletes out there," said Rob Fitzpatrick, Westfield School's head coach.
Much like the upcoming season, competition may not be next door.
Of five schools at Tuesday's scrimmages, Macon County had the longest trip, but Coach Dexter Copeland said his team has a "have work, will travel" mentality.
"With the weather being the way it's been the last month, we've been getting canceled in a lot of things. So we had to come up to Bibb County to get some work. Thank you for letting us come and we're enjoying the atmosphere right now," Copeland said.
Macon County won their region last year. If you ask other teams their strength, it's physicality.
"We want to be a physical football team. We want to play with a lot of team speed. We want to stretch the field on offense and on defense we want to play in-your-mouth defense and hit you hard," Copeland said.
Copeland's coached at Macon County since 2015 and won a Class A-Public championship in 2016. While Copeland established his coaching style over a number of years, Rutland's first year head coach Jarmarcus Johnson spent the summer introducing players to his brand of football.
"I think we are as far as knowing what to do, we're ahead of schedule. Understanding how to do it correctly and at the pace we want to do it at, I don't think we're there yet," Johnson said.
Regardless of where a team is in the process, everybody's ready for the Friday night lights.
"Coming off a COVID year and not really having a full offseason. Actually having one this year is a big deal for us. We're super excited. Our motto this year is to prove them wrong," Stephens said.
The first week of the football season is August 20.