43rd year of Cougar football is upon us

They say it happens with age. I reckon so, but the years seem to be coming faster these days. And year number 43 of Pulaski County High School football is upon us. Yes sir, official pre-season practice for the Cougars gets underway at 8 am Thursday morning, and things will happen fast.

Thursday, Friday and Saturday practices will begin at 8 am and last until 12:30, but on Saturday the team will finish up at 11:30 am. Then on Monday and Tuesday July 31 and August 1 it’s back to 8 am until 12:30.

Things get a bit dicey after that due to school requirements for the faculty and this includes the football coaching staff. At this writing the practice time for Wednesday, August 2 was uncertain. There will for sure be practice, just don’t know exactly when yet.

Then on Thursday and Friday practice will be 3:30 until 7:30. Saturday, August 5 will be a down day. Then on Monday, August 7 it’s back to 3:30 and figures to stay that way for the duration of the season.

There is one exception. Thursday, August 10 will be a down day, however, it is “Cougar Photo Day.” It is expected to start at 1:30 in Kenneth J. Dobson Stadium. Photo Day will include the Pulaski County Middle School football team, the Cougar junior varsity, and varsity squads. Parents and the public are invited to attend and take photos.

The next day things start to get a bit serious. There will be a pre-season “Touchdown Classic” on Friday, August 11 in Kenneth J. Dobson Stadium. Pulaski County will host Magna Vista, Liberty Christian of Lynchburg, and Radford in a four-way scrimmage.

The following Friday, August 18, there will be a five-team “Benefit Jamboree” in Dobson Stadium. Pulaski County will entertain Liberty of Bedford, Rustburg, Galax, and George Wythe of Wytheville.

Pulaski County head coach Stephen James is expecting around 70-75 Cougars in camp, and there’s much to do and a short time to get it all done, but he will also be aware of present heat conditions, and keep a close watch on his charges.

“We’re going to hit the field at 8 am, so starting early long before the heat of the day I think is a great idea. When the temperature and humidity gets the highest, we will be finished and gone home. But working in the heat is good too. What we will do is make sure the kids get plenty of water. Even if they don’t want to drink, they will drink water. We do not want any dehydration. We also weigh the kids every day and keep track of that.”

Even though official VHSL practices get underway Thursday, some routine things will remain in place like working in the weight room, however, time now starts to become a factor. It’s not just a simple summer workout anymore. It’s preparation for the season. With each passing day, there is less time

“We will continue to work some in the weight room as we practice,” says James, “but we have many questions so there are many answers to find. We have a lot of positions that are wide open right now, so we are looking for people to step up and start to distance themselves as soon as possible. It’s also possible that if that doesn’t happen, that could be a good sign too because competition for positions will make you better. But we’ve got a ways to go. Our main goal right now is to work hard, and get better every day,” said James.

The official season opens on Friday, August 25 as the Cougars will play host to the Vikings of Northside. The night before, the Cougar Junior Varsity will play at Northside.

The month of August will be huge for Cougar fans as all action will be in the friendly confines. The second week of the season, September 1, the Cougars will host William Fleming in Dobson. So, there’s a lot action of tap, and Pulaski County will do very little traveling early in the season.

 PC Middle School Football:

The Pulaski County Middle School football program will begin practice on Monday, July 31 at 5 pm. All prospective players are asked to meet at the lower fieldhouse. All players will need a current Virginia High School League physical on file with the high school. Physicals can be turned in directly to the middle school coaching staff on the day of practice.

Middle School Cougars, 7th and 8th graders, are encouraged to arrive early to receive their equipment before practice. Any questions can be directed to Coach Brad Sutphin’s email (bdsutphin@pcva.us).

Both the 7th and 8th grade middle school Cougars have seven and eight-game season schedules, plus both have two pre-season “Jamborees.”

The Locker Room

By Dan Callahan

The Patriot