This story has been updated from its original publication in August, 2018, on

By JOHN JAMES MARSHALL/Designated Writers

Another August 12 is about to come and go and once again, I will have survived.

That might not seem like such a big deal to you, but there were a few years there — four to be exact — when I wasn’t sure I would.

Now, somewhat sad to say, August 12 is just another day. But if you were a high school football player in the mid-1970s, it was anything but that.

Those of a certain age remember when school wasn’t in session anywhere near August 12. Summer was still going on … for most people.

But August 12 was the day that Louisiana high school football two-a-days began. Believe me, you dreaded that day more than any final exam you didn’t study for. More than calling a girl and asking for a date to Homecoming. More than telling Dad that there had “been a little accident” with the car.

Every August 12, I would walk into the locker room with the same thought college basketball teams have during March Madness — survive and advance.

It was five days of practicing twice a day without pads — that was no fun — followed by that sixth day when we strapped it on — which was less fun. Soreness was your constant companion.

The coach would come around the corner and blow the whistle for the opening lap and it was on. As a freshman, you wondered why you were even out there. As a sophomore, you were a tackling dummy. As a junior, you questioned the sanity of these people they called coaches. As a senior, you wondered why you hadn’t bothered to get in better shape during the summer.

It was always a tough call whether morning or afternoon practice was tougher. Morning meant dew on the ground and we had to do “stations” (rotating every blow of the whistle to a different location for a different conditioning drill/torture). But afternoon practice was always Africa-hot and sticky, plus you were still tired from the morning.

Now, much has changed. Hardly anyone does two-a-days anymore. August 12 has been replaced by a much earlier date with different restrictions as to what can and can’t be done during practice.

We actually looked forward to school starting; it meant two-a-days were over. Gimme Physics over gassers any day of the week.

But to this day, I always stop to remember that no matter how bad things might be going for me on any given August 12, at least I don’t have to rotate between Figure 8s and the Up-Down drill on a dew-covered, itchy grass practice field.