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‘Dogs don pads as new season grows ever nearer

BY IVAN SANDERS
STAR SPORTS EDITOR
ivan.sanders@elizabethton.com
HAMPTON – The dawning of a new football season got more real for area teams as for the first time in the official 2021 season teams were able to strap on the pads and do a little pounding on each other as the physical contact portion of the game becomes real.

One of those teams was the Hampton Bulldogs who took to the practice field at 6:30 pm, an evening where humidity had built and the air hung heavy after a morning that brought rain to the area before the heat returned.

Despite the heat, the Bulldogs were ready to get down and dirty as they prepare for their season opener on Friday, August 20th as they host Pigeon Forge.

The ‘Dogs also have a couple of weeks of highly competitive scrimmages starting next week at Tennessee High.

There was no one more excited on Monday evening than Hampton head coach Michael Lunsford who was looking forward to the new season.

After a going through a few weeks of conditioning and running through the playbook, Hampton coach Michael Lunsford was asked what he liked about the 2021 Hampton Bulldogs.

“Depth – we have a lot of depth,” Lunsford said. “There are eight or nine linemen that we can play and that is huge in 2A football. We also have a lot of weapons as we have several basketball players out that weren’t playing that we feel can make a huge difference for us.

“Michael Harrison has really been a surprise for us at wide receiver. We just have a lot of depth for the whole team which is exciting.”

Lunsford said that the next two weeks will be a big difference-maker for his team as they will enter a rigorous scrimmage season against larger schools.

“We have a pretty grueling scrimmage schedule coming up,” stated Lunsford. “We are going to Tennessee High next week and its going to be hot in Bristol on that turf. We are going down to Knoxville to Kings Academy the week after that and then Volunteer in a jamboree after that which we just picked up.

“We are going against some much bigger teams in hot weather so we should be really conditioned.”

Like many other schools, with the new alignment which started this season, the Bulldogs will be playing some teams that they haven’t faced in the past which should bring added excitement to the 2021 schedule.

The Bulldogs will see one of those teams on the very first game of the season when the Tigers of Pigeon Forge make the trip to JC Campbell Stadium.

“It is big,” said Lunsford. “It’s a good measuring stick. They are a good football team and are 3A which means they are a bigger school. We don’t know much about them or what to expect. We will know more about them when it gets closer to week one.

“You always want to put your best foot forward in game one and get a good preview of what the season is going to be like.”

By all indications, Bulldog Nation has some good things just ahead as football season gets underway.