It takes a lot of discipline to play football, especially in August. Your classmates are not on campus, and the days are usually very hot. But in this unusual year for high school football, the Charleston Tigers were demonstrating their discipline by taking part in a pre-dawn practice that started at 6 a.m. The Tigers concluded their final practice in shorts, practice jerseys, shoulder pads, and helmets today at Alumni Field. Charleston will now, along with all other high school programs across the state, stand by and hope for continued authorization from the governor to continue practice next week in full pads.
Head football coach Ricky May and his staff had the Tigers out early and going through many drills and team work in the early hours of practice that eventually ended just before the rain moved into Charleston. The practice was, from my observation, a spirited and efficient practice that mixed in conditioning for the players along with individual skill practice, as well as team practices.
The Tigers will play in a new Class 3A conference this year and are picked by Hooten’s Magazine to finish second in their 3A district behind Cedarville. Of course, there is a long way to go, and just as with all of the contending teams in their district last year, and especially for the Tigers, injuries can play a determining factor in the eventual order of finish. Coach May’s team has increased numbers and a bevy of young talent mixed with some experienced upperclassmen from last year that will make the Tigers a playoff contender once again this year.
Charleston fans can remember all to well how the Tigers began the season without key players due to injuries or transfer to other schools. As the season began against the Tigers brutal non-conference schedule that included two Class 4A teams, and a Class 3A playoff team from the season before, three more key players were lost in a lopsided loss at Dardanelle. The Tigers are hoping to avoid the injury bug this year before the start of conference play. This season, gone is the Class 3A playoff contender Melbourne Bearcatz, and in their place will be the Class 4A Pottsville Apaches. Charleston will play Dardanelle, Ozark, and Pottsville before they open conference play. It will once again be essential that key personnel are not lost before the start of conference play.
In Coach May’s first season last year as Charleston’s head football coach, he started the season with just 33 players on his senior high roster. Then the injury bug hit Charleston, and Coach May and his staff were left with keeping the team together before the start of conference play so the Tigers would have a chance to compete for the Class 3A state playoffs. The Tigers made the playoffs and lost to Prescott in the first round. Despite the early exit from the playoffs, Coach May and his assistants did a great job keeping the team together and getting last year’s team into the playoffs.
This year, Charleston has 38 players on the senior high roster and return several players who had significant playing time in 2019. If Charleston can stay healthy this year, they can be very much in the running to win their district and enter the state playoffs with a higher seed than last year’s number five seed.
Resident Press will continue to monitor the news from the State Capitol regarding the status of high school football for this season. As news is released on this issue, RP will keep you updated. And as soon as a start date for this season is known, Resident Press will publish a preseason special on the 2020 Charleston Tigers. Stay with RP for the latest in Tigers football.
For all of our readers, I would like to introduce Mrs. Ronni Tate Young who will be a contributing sports photographer this year for Resident Press and will provide you with the pictures of Charleston sports! We are excited to have Ronni as a contributor, and you will love her photos!
I am looking forward to providing you again with Charleston Tigers stories and updates throughout the next school year. I hope you will enjoy reading as much as I do writing them.