Patriots ramping up football preparations

Henry County High School running back Morgan Barrick (right) puts a move on a Lexington defender during a 7-on-7 passing drill on Thursday at Wildcat Stadium on the Bethel University campus in McKenzie. The Patriots also worked with McKenze at Bethel.

Football players at Henry County High School have crossed the finish line of the offseason and are sprinting full out toward the start of the 2021 season.

Players were allowed to don helmets and work in 7-on-7 passing drills last week. Starting today, the players will be adding their shoulder pads during workouts so they start becoming acclimated to practicing in the heat in full gear.

Full practice drills will begin on Monday with the Patriots working toward their first preseason scrimmage set for July 30 against Christian Brothers High School in Memphis. The scrimmage at Christian Brothers will feature time for freshman, junior varsity and the varsity teams.

Patriot head coach James Counce Jr. said coaches are still discussing the itinerary for that day’s workout and start times will be announced later. Counce said the Patriots have enjoyed a good offseason. He liked the enthusiasm and the way the team performed during 7-on-7 drills with McKenzie and Lexington last week at Bethel University in McKenzie.

“We had a good offseason and a good spring practice. These guys are taking ownership and have worked hard. They showed in last week’s seven-on-seven drills that they had retained a lot of the things we worked on this spring, which is good. We didn’t do any football related work in June. We only worked in the weight room and ran. So to be able to go out and execute the way we did over at Bethel says a lot about how serious these guys are about playing football,” said Counce.

Counce said the team was actually able to install some new stuff on Thursday during the rotation to the sideline while McKenzie and Lexington scrimmaged. He was pleased that the team was able to carry out their new assignments during those drills.

“We are looking forward to getting everyone together this week rather than being spread out like last week. We’ll get through the acclimation period and get going with our real practices next week. I think everyone connected to the team is excited to get going on football season,” said Counce.

The Patriots’ second scrimmage is set for Aug. 6 with Montgomery Bell Academy coming to town to work with the HCHS players. The annual football jamboree is set for Aug. 13 and the Patriots will play Haywood County.

Henry County opens its season at home Aug. 20 with Summit visiting Patriot Stadium. Henry County met Summit for the first time in last year’s semifinals of the Class 5A state playoffs with the Spartans winning a 35-21 game at Patriot Stadium. Summit went on to win the Class 5A state championship, but won’t get to defend that title as the Spartans’ program was moved to Class 6A for this season when the TSSAA announced its enrollment-based reclassification in the spring.

Three of the Patriots’ first four games are against Class 6A opponents. Henry County travels to Hendersonville Beech on Aug. 27 with the Buccaneers also moving up to Class 6A.

After Henry County hosts Region 7-5A rival Kenwood on Sept. 3, Class 6A power Brentwood visits on Sept. 10.

Region 7-5A has seen change with Clarksville and West Creek moving up to Class 6A. Dyer County was moved to Region 8-5A. Kenwood, Northwest (in Clarksville Sept. 17)  and Northeast (in Clarksville Oct. 22) return to the region. New additions to the region are Springfield (at home Oct. 1) and Portland (at home Oct. 29).

Two new non-region opponents have joined the schedule. The Patriots will host South Gibson on Sept. 24 and go into Kentucky to play at Paducah Tilghman on Oct. 8.

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