Liberty County High School’s football team got together for a team-building exercise Friday night that extended well into Saturday morning.
The Panthers studied film, enjoyed home-cooked hamburgers and hot dogs, and laughed together until midnight. That’s when the fun turned serious, as the team took to the field for an intrasquad scrimmage.
Liberty County was thrust into a tougher Region 3-AAAA schedule last year and finished with a 4-7 overall record. While the squad managed to secure a first-round game in the state playoffs last year, the players and coaching staff think they can earn a better record this season.
With a slew of returning veterans and a few key additions, the Panther coaching staff has spent the better part of the spring and summer getting the squad physically fit and ready for action.
Practices officially started Aug. 1, three days before classes were back in session. Following the new guidelines set in place by the Georgia High School Association regarding concussions, and summer heat and sudden storms, many practices have been slightly altered in duration.
The Panthers are scheduled to play their first scrimmage Friday at South Effingham. With reduced practice time and a game just a week away, the coaching staff thought the midnight scrimmage and slumber party was a great way of getting players to know each other a bit better.
“We did this in lieu of our usual summer football camp,” Panther head coach Kirk Warner said, adding that this is the third year they’ve had a midnight scrimmage.
“They watched films, we fed them pretty much all night long, and they got to know each other a little better,” he added.
Warner said overnight sleep-ins and scrimmages are typical team-building exercises. He added that the event is fun and helps boost team morale.
“I think it is invaluable,” he said. “I’ve been involved in football all my life, and we did it in college. We even did this type of thing when I had my brief stint playing in the NFL.”
Warner said several of his former players currently playing at the college level have told him of their team-building activities and how much they help cohesion.
“If you are going to go to battle for each other, you have to know who you are going to battle for,” the coach said.
Friday night, Ohio State linebacker and LCHS graduate Raekwon McMillan showed up to spend time with a few of his former teammates and met the newer players. He was headed back to Ohio State for his sophomore season at the Buckeyes’ training camp, which started Saturday.