By DAVID HUNTER
Cannon County High School's football team got its first taste of playing under the lights on July 25 with the start of preseason practice for the upcoming 2016 season. The Lions had to have its first allowed training with pads at 8:30 p.m., because the TSSAA heat policy, which during the same day afternoon temperatures reached to the mid-90s with a feels like of over 100 degrees.
"It is always fun after summer," CCHS head coach T.J. Daniel said. "You work hard and everybody is looking forward to getting back on the field. We've got more players out this year. The coaching staff and I are really excited."
The players and coaches were not as excited for the official season kickoff last week as they were for the opportunity to get used to playing under lights just like on Friday nights. The regular season starts on August 19 at home against Community High School.
"It is very cool, and I cannot wait to get out there," CCHS junior Anton Knox said. "There was a lot of hitting and contact just like Friday nights. Coaches are going to be screaming and we cannot wait to get out here."
Even though the Lions opened up fall camp with pads last week, they have been hard at work preparing for the 2016 season either with workouts and participating in 7-on-7 camps a couple of weeks ago at Gordonsville and Trousdale County.
While the 7-on-7 camps did not allow tackling or wearing pads, these same events gave CCHS a chance to see how they competed against quality teams from around the state. It also gave them a chance to work on developing team chemistry and to concentrate on different offensive and defensive formations, which they will use during the season.
"It helped a lot to see different coverages, and how we need to pass against defenses," Morris said. "To do other things besides running the football."
Fellow junior Anton Knox added, "It helps us out a lot. It helps us get prepared for different coverages we will see and other type of offenses that teams are running. A lot of teams in the 7-on-7s ran the same offenses as teams in our district. I felt like they really helped a lot, because a lot of teams when they hear CCHS, they hear about our past. We got out there and really showed up this year and we won a lot of games during the 7-on-7s this year.
The Lions have several team goals this season, but the most important one is finally breaking the long losing streak. Last season, CCHS finished 0-10, and the players have been open and honest about using it as motivation during the off-season to get better and win as many games as they can during the 2016 season.
"We have a lot of motivation, and we have more team leaders," Morris said. "Everybody is just ready to get out there and do the best we can."
Overall, the players and coaches are finally glad the summer break is over, and they can prepare for the new season trying to improve from winless 2015.
"We are really excited to see how everybody is going to do, and how everybody is going to react to the contact," junior Dalton Morris said before practice last week. "To see where everybody fits in the lineup."