By VAN HOLLAND
Thursday marked the beginning of the 2013 football season for high schools across North Carolina. It was the first official day that teams could take to the field and practice as a unit.
It was also a new beginning for all three Edgecombe County teams as they embark on new journeys this season. There's been conference realignments and a head coaching change that took place in the off-season.
The Tarboro Vikings and head coach Jeff Craddock will embark on a new beginning in the 1-A ranks where they are the No. 1 pre-season pick by NCPreps.com. Tarboro is coming off of a season where they rolled the dice against many opponents and won, except in the 2-A state title game. That loss will be a feeding force for Craddock and his Vikings heading into their first season as a 1-A team.
North Edgecombe and coach Keith Parisher know they have a lot of work ahead of them, because they are aligned in a new conference and county rival Tarboro is in that conference with them. Parisher has some talented players retuning this season.
The new 1-A conference consists of Tarboro, North Edgecombe, Rocky Mount Prep, South Creek, Riverside and Northampton County.
SouthWest Edgecombe and first-year head coach Jonathan Cobb has the beginning of what he hopes is a good first season as coach. Cobb took over the Cougars program after his father Raymond Cobb decided to retire after last season.
Cobb and his Cougars will battle two new opponents and three familiar foes in their conference this year. Opponents in their conference are Washington, North Johnston, North Pitt, Farmville Central and Beddingfield.
According to NCHSAA rules, football programs have to use the first five days of practice as a required session for physical conditioning. During the first two days of football practice, players can only wear helmets, shorts and football shoes, which constitutes the acceptable dress code through the state guidelines.
On days three through five, players can add shoulder pads, but absolutely no body-to-body contact is permitted by the guidelines. Practice time during the first five days shall be limited to three hours per day, which includes stretching and water breaks.
On day six, full uniforms may be worn on the practice field and body-to-body contact is allowed.
All football players, with the exception of soccer players, who just kick for the football team, must follow the conditioning requirements per state guidelines.
Any student who is late coming out for the football team must still undergo the five days of conditioning as outlined before engaging in body contact.
NCHSAA said in a news release that schools are also reminded of the hot weather management and prevention guidelines and recommendations and the importance of hydration for student athletes.
The first official day that schools can scrimmage against one another is Saturday, August 10.
The Tarboro Vikings will be hosting their annual jamboree Friday, August 16. SouthWest Edgecombe and North Edgecombe are slated to participate in the jamboree again this year.
The first official game can be played on Friday, August 23 and all three county schools are scheduled to play that night on the road. Tarboro opens up on the road at Nash Central, while SouthWest will open up at Southern Nash and North Edgecombe will be at Northwest Halifax. All games are scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m.