MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) - High school football teams across the state suited up on Wednesday in full pads for the first time since spring practice.
Central High School coach Jesse Hicks told his team after Wednesday's first day of practice in full pads to go home and get some rest.
Wednesday was the first day coaches could see what all their players had at full speed.
"With the new GHSA rule, you have to have five consecutive days in just helmets and shorts," says Westside coach Sheddrick Risper. "There's nothing different for us. We just try to follow the rules and try to abide by the heat policies that are set. We're just excited to be out here."
"The big thing is you kind of separate the guys," says Hicks. "Anybody can be good against air and against dummies. You kind of get a realistic look at what the kids can do physically."
With a long off-season, now it's time for the players to shake off a little bit of rust and get back to the basics.
"Run blocking and tackling," says Hicks. "It's basic football for us. We're 'Football 101' right now. Just trying to do the basic things."
It's not hard to figure out what the players think of their first chance to get some contact.
"It makes you want to hit even more since you've been conditioning for so long," says Central senior middle linebacker Nigel Bowden. "You're like, 'Man, I'm so ready to get into pads.' Everybody's ready to get into pads, so the first day everybody is going full speed to the play, trying to hit."
"Man, it's wonderful," says Westside senior defensive tackle/end Jalen Lawrence. "Just to get out here and play the game that we love, the game that we've been waiting all off-season to play. It's just a beautiful thing."
"First day of pads was great," says Central sophomore quarterback Bobby Cummings. "We all got after each other. We went hard. We never quit. We kept it pushing and kept going."
"It feels good to come out here just to hit," says Westside senior wide receiver Shannon Smith. "Everything's faster. Everything's more up-tempo. I've been waiting to do this all spring."
Risper says there's nothing like the month leading up to the start of another football season.
"We're just excited that it's near football season again," says Risper. "Our kids are excited. Football in Georgia—there's nothing like it. So we're just excited to be in pads and to get after it for a little bit."
Rivals Central and Westside will kick off their 2012 seasons against each other on August 31st at the Ed DeFore Sports Complex in Macon.