PREP OPENERS: Lanier starts early, stays late
By Graham Dunn
In what has become a tradition, the Sidney Lanier Poets opened preseason camp at midnight on Monday.
They followed with an early practice in the heat and humidity of the morning.
It wasn’t easy but senior defensive end Alfred Thomas said it was necessary.
“You have to be in shape for something like this,” Thomas said. “We went hard in both so it was tough.
The Poets haven’t forgotten their last game of 2016, a first-round loss to Daphne. It has been somewhat of a rallying cry for Thomas and the other 12 seniors who get one more shot at glory before moving on to the next level.
“I believe we learned our lesson,” Thomas said. “We don’ t feel pressure because we believe we will make it. We’ve been there so there should be no surprises.”
Second-year coach Marvin Cunningham put his team through the paces over the course of 10 hours on Monday, the first of 16 or so practices before the Poets open the season against city rival Robert E. Lee on Aug. 24.
He continues to search for the magic potion to get Lanier over the top in what could be a special season.
“Everybody knows what we have back so expectations are what they are,” Cunningham said. “Our seniors have done a good job of working and showing others what it takes. If they keep that up, we’ve got a chance.”
Lanier finished with seven wins on the field and got an eighth when the Lee loss was forfeited. It was the best record for the program since 2000 when the Poets finished 9-2.
Through the summer workout program, Cunningham has witnessed the commitment but now is the time to see if it is enough to carry them deep into November.
“We had a discipline problem the first couple of years but I think a lot of that was ironed out last year,” Cunningham said. “We’ve talked a lot about discipline but this is where it counts (saying as he pointed to the practice field).”