A few setbacks were not going to keep the Orangeburg Prep Indians from starting varsity football preseason practice on Thursday's SCISA opening day schedule for the fall 2019 season.
Thunderstorms in the area knocked out power to the new weight room in the late afternoon hours, but the student-athletes just opened doors to let more light in and began workouts anyway.
Once it was time to take to the practice field for the evening drills, fourth-year OP head coach Andy Palmer and his coaching staff were only delayed about 15 minutes due to lightning strikes just outside of the area.
From there, steady rain kept things on the field soggy, but the 32-member team pushed through and completed the tasks at hand to put the first fall workout in the books.
"We had to get started some way," Palmer said. "We've got about 13 seniors and, with it being year four with the program for us as coaches, our seniors have been with us for years.
"We still aren't where we need to be, so we've got to have that desire to get beyond what is the norm. 5-5 last year for us is not acceptable for us. Getting to the playoffs and going one-and-done is not acceptable to us. We want to reach new levels. This is the first day toward that journey and in 29 days we will kick it off with Greenwood Christian."
The Indians open the season on the road at Greenwood Christian on August 30, before hosting back-to-back games with Christian Academy of Myrtle Beach (Sept. 6) and Florence Christian (Sept. 13).
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"With 32 players, whether it's on offense, defense or special teams, when you get on the field you have to get some quality playing time and we have to be in the best shape of our life," Palmer said. "I don't think I've done as well as I could have in recent years with exaggerating that so we are conditioned for the entire season.
"I just want them to have that tenacity that players come off the field and ask 'coach, why'd you take me off,' not tapping out and asking to come off for a break."
During the off-season workouts, the Indians participated in 7-on-7 camps with teams including Orangeburg-Wilkinson, Bamberg-Ehrhardt and Blackville-Hilda.
"I thought we competed well with 7-on-7 work," Palmer said. "If you compete against some of those skill guys, you have a chance to compete at our level.
"We've got the new weight room facility over there that we were able to use for the first time this summer. It's full access out here to everything that we needed. I thought that was super. We really appreciate the efforts of everyone involved with that."
Most years, practice kicks off in late July. This year's schedule had teams wait till August arrived to take the field.
"Everybody is on the same page (when it comes to starting practice later)," Palmer said. "I'm sure everyone got it rolling in SCISA, and the high school league will get it rolling tomorrow.
"We're all just doing what we need to do to be ready for game one. Once we put the pads on for practice, we're going to emphasize being more physical this year. You don't want anybody to get hurt and you do all you can to protect them. But you have to do it. You have to be ready when Friday night gets here."