This is the fourth in a series of stories highlighting each local football program's preparation for the upcoming season. While fall practice won't start for a few more weeks, each team has been preparing for the season in the weight room and on the conditioning field.

Last season was one of East Limestone's best in quite a few years, as the Indians finished 2018 with a 9-3 record and a trip to the second round of the Class 5A playoffs.

Coach Jeff Pugh said it will need to rely on some new players, especially in the defensive secondary, if the team wants to duplicate or better last season.

“We've got a secondary that's going to be green,” Pugh said. “We've got three news guys back there, so they're going to have to get a lot of work in. They're good athletes and good workers, but they've got to be able to use their eyes and know what to look at in coverage.”

Pugh said summer workouts have been good, with nearly 100% attendance.

“We went three days a week in June, and now we're going four days a week in training,” Pugh said. “We get three days in weights and one day of drill work, with a little bit of 7-on-7. There's been good participation and the kids have worked hard, which is all I can ask.”

Pugh said the team will participate in a 7-on-7 tournament July 23 at Jack Allen Sportsplex in Decatur, then play in an 11-on-11 tournament July 25 at Lee High School in Huntsville.

He said those tournaments are important for the team to get some football work in before fall practice starts.

“We do them (in practice), but it's against each other, which is tough on the offense, because most of the time the defense knows our offensive formations,” Pugh said. “When you're going against somebody else, it gives you the opportunity to do some things and the defense doesn't know what you're going to be doing.”

Pugh said those tournaments also help his defense, especially with new players in the secondary.

“It helps them get used to covering those teams that spread the field, which is what a lot of our opponents do nowadays,” he said. “We try to simulate it as well as we can out there. When you go against competition close to you, it gives you an idea of how good you are in coverage. Good teams are going to spread you out, so you've got to be able to cover those good athletes in open spaces.”