BRYANT, Ark. – The clock is winding down to kick off in central Arkansas and with less than a week left, teams are switching up their game plays to face a new foe: the heat.
In Bryant, the clock begins on another day of Arkansas football, but take an instant replay and you’ll realize these athletes are playing under the lights of dawn instead of dusk.
“We got up at 4:45 this morning,” Bryant Junior High School Head Football Coach Kenny Horn said.
Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, Bryant 9th graders hit the field at 6 a.m. Tuesday, tackling an opponent in the red zone.
“It’s just hot and we got to move it,” Horn said. “The morning time is when you practice in the summertime.”
Horn said the decision to shift practice was an easy one as temperatures climbed into the triple digits.
“Shoulder pads, helmets, girdles. When the equipment gets hot you can feel it,” Horn said.
Not to mention the turf, which Horn says could increase temperatures by 10-15 degrees.
Horn said keeping his athletes healthy is a number one priority, which means plenty of breaks and water.
“Every coach knows so we just got to keep our eye on them, keep them hydrated, and keep them safe,” Horn said.
Just like in a game, adjusting plays is necessary to surviving the competition on and off the field.
“For this week, getting a taste of 6 o’clock in the morning practice will be good for them,” Horn said.
Horn said the early morning practices will continue through the rest of the week.