Mother Nature was not kind to several Iredell County football teams on Thursday, the first official day of high school football practice.

Evening thunderstorms forced the opening workouts at North Iredell, South Iredell and Statesville to be conducted indoors.

“We tried to get out there on the field but the lightning kept sending us back,” North Iredell coach David Lewis said.

The Raiders devoted most of their time to agility testing and conditioning.

“Had we gotten outside the offense would have played some on air and the defense would have had pursuit drills and things like that,” Lewis said.

Statesville hit the agility and weight room and worked on conditioning as well.

The Greyhounds moved to the gymnasium building where they installed some offensive plays and addressed defensive schemes.

“Gym practice is never ideal,” said Statesville coach Randall Gusler, who enters the season one victory shy of his 100th as Greyhounds head coach. “But we accomplished what we needed to. It wasn’t a wasted day.”

This marked the second year in a row bad weather relegated South Iredell to a first-day indoor practice.

By the numbers

Statesville returns to the football field on the heels of a 9-4 season that included a share of the North Piedmont Conference championship with South Iredell and a second-round playoff appearance. There were 82 players who attended the first day. Gusler broke that number down to 46 varsity and 36 junior varsity. He said the latter figure was slightly lower than he anticipated but that the JV number would likely see a bump up in the days ahead.

South Iredell finished 7-6 a year ago, shared the NPC title with Statesville and advanced to the second round of the 3AA playoffs before losing to eventual state champion Weddington. The Vikings’ first day featured 137 football players. The split between varsity and JV was nearly right down the middle with 70 JV and 67 varsity. Coach Scott Miller said they were only missing two players.

The Raiders, coming off of a 3-8 season, had 54 players attend opening day, a little more than half of which were varsity members. Lewis expects to pick up another dozen in the coming days as the start of school nears.

Preseason exhibitions

North Iredell is scrimmaging at 6 p.m. August 13 at Starmount.

“We expect to look sharp,” Lewis said. “Obviously, though, there are always things to tweak.”

The Raiders scrimmage again at 9 p.m. Aug. 16. They’ll be at West Wilkes that night. Their season begins Aug. 23 at home versus Wilkes Central.

South Iredell is hosting a multi-team scrimmage at 7 p.m. Aug. 10 that also features Mooresville, Statesville and Northwest Cabarrus. The Vikings will not line up against Statesville. At 7 p.m. Aug. 16, South Iredell will scrimmage Hickory as part of the Carolina Preps Jamboree at Mooresville. The Vikings open the season Aug. 23 at home against Waxhaw Cuthbertson.

The Greyhounds will scrimmage Mooresville and Northwest Cabarrus on Aug. 10 at South Iredell. They are paired with North Mecklenburg during the Carolina Preps Jamboree Aug. 16 at Mooresville. Statesville will be on the road the first three weeks of the season beginning with the Aug. 23 opener at Hickory.

Editor's note: Reports from other Iredell County football practices coming Sunday.

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