By Sonny Jones
The players were running … and sweating … and drinking lots of water. Coaches wanted more hustle. Players were determined to get better.
So it began Monday for most East Bladen and West Bladen football, boys’ soccer, volleyball, girls’ tennis and cross country teams. The West Bladen cross country team is expected to start official workouts next week.
It was Aug. 1, the date set by the N.C. High School Athletic Association when workouts are no longer voluntary and teams can officially prepare for upcoming seasons.
On the football field, linemen were practicing their stance and learning their assignments, running backs were working on their agility and protecting the ball, and receivers were, well, receiving passes from quarterback candidates.
Over on the soccer pitch, players were dribbling and passing around preset cones, coaches were instructing participants on the fundamentals of the game and goals were scored, at times against unguarded nets. Hey, it’s practice. Keepers are optional.
Both Bladen County football teams had about 45 to 50 players at Monday evening’s practices. The West Bladen boys’ soccer team, which returns 18 players, had about 30 participants and East Bladen had about 20.
Here’s a look at some of the practices:
EAST BLADEN FOOTBALL
WEST BLADEN FOOTBALL
WEST BLADEN SOCCER
EAST BLADEN SOCCER
TUESDAY’S PICK TO CLICK
Atlanta Braves’ Austin Riley celebrates his 10-year, $212 contract with a home run against the Philadelphia Phillies.
MONDAY’S PICK: Freddie Freeman is red-hot. The former Braves first baseman has a .415 batting average with 3 home runs and 10 RBIs in his last 15 games with the Dodgers. He’s also 5-for-12 in his career against San Francisco starting pitcher Logan Webb. Adds up to a couple of hits and a couple of RBIs tonight for Freeman. RESULTS: Freeman was 3-for-5 with a double, scored twice and drove in two runs in the Dodgers’ 8-2 victory. He’s hitting .328 for the season.
WHAT TO WATCH TODAY
• MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at Tampa Bay Rays or Seattle Mariners at New York Yankees, 7 p.m., MLBN
• TBT BASKETBALL: Championship, Americana for Autism vs. Blue Collar U, 8 p.m., ESPN
• WNBA: Dallas Wings at Chicago Sky, 9 p.m., CBSSN
• MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at San Francisco Giants, 9:30 p.m., TBS
Sonny Jones can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.