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Football team takes precautions against heat while prepping for season opener

At Dougherty Comprehensive High School, they can't afford for the heat to slow them down. / Mary Green

August usually means hot weather in Southwest Georgia, but it also means the start of football season.

Teams are in crunch time now, with the season kickoff just a week away, and at Dougherty Comprehensive High School, they can't afford for the heat to slow them down.

While the Trojans begin their practices with stretches, the real work comes hours before.

“We want to make sure they are staying hydrated and that starts in the school time," said Will Sells, the manager of Phoebe's athletic trainers. Phoebe provides athletic trainers to the football teams at all Dougherty County schools, working at all games and practices to ensure they're staying safe and healthy.

Wherever the players go on the field, the hydration station usually isn't too far behind.

"I'll tell you what, it's been extremely hot," Dougherty Head Coach Damien Gary said. "We're taking a lot of precautions to make sure that we've got them hydrated."

Not staying hydrated can have its consequences in the heat.

“Heat exhaustion, heat cramps are the two main common ones we see," Sells said. "Usually in the preseason, in this time when it’s hot, as well as some of the kids who haven’t been conditioning all summer.”

The Trojans don't have time for that right now.

"The goal is to win more than we did last year, be competitive, and have fun doing it," Gary said.

So they've been keeping the pads off.

"Traditionally, we'll go full pads at least twice a week," Gary said. "We've taken the pads off and are going to helmets and are trying to do things inside a little bit more."

Gary is also making sure his players are grabbing water at least every 15 minutes.

"Guys can continue to get water during the period of practice as well, but we do have those on script where we have designated times that we take water breaks," he said.

Because during this time, they're on the clock.

"Next Friday is our first game," Gary said. "I wish it was this Friday."

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