Heritage Football "turns up the heat", trains with Lynchburg Fire Department

Heritage High School football players and Lynchburg Fire Department recruits pose for a picture, after a full day of training at the Central Virginia Proving Grounds. (Photo: Dave Walls/WSET)

LYNCHBURG, Va. (WSET) - The Heritage Pioneers football team is no stranger to hard work in the offseason.

While full practices for high school football teams don't begin for several weeks, Pioneers head coach Brad Bradley decided to give his team a real workout, by partnering up with people who know what it means to perform "when the heat is on."

The Lynchburg Fire Department.

"Aw coach, what did you get us into?"

Despite the intial recation, coach Brad Bradley says his players embraced the opportunity to work along fire department recruits, saying "Football is a mental sport. And sometimes, being mentally tough is way more important than being physically tough. I thought today was one of those days where we work on our mental toughness."

Pioneer players had both their mental and physical abilities tested at the proving grounds, as fire recruits demonstrated the skills they practice that can help them save a life. LFD Recruit Zachary Rygh says the tasks presented are important to them, much like learning a playbook is to a football player, saying "A lot of it is just how you practice. In football, you practice for that championship game. If you practice right, when you get to that fire, you're going to perform well, and everything is gonna go smoothly."

Lynchburg Fire Department recruits created all the training exercises that the players are going through, to replicate what they're going through with their training. From working the stairs in the tower, wrapping fire houses, or testing their skills on a ladder. But players agree, the tough part comes with the training dummy. Dragging him lengthwise across the drill field, all while wearing a helmet and oxygen tank on a hot summer day.

Despite the struggles of the heat and physical challenges, Senior running back Elijah Davis says he found the training refreshing. "Being on your belly the whole time, you gotta use your legs. Theirs is a more natural training. We just use weights, so I like this kind more. It's fun, and it's good experience." said Davis.

It's an experience coach Bradley says will have a lasting impact on both organizations. "Our kids are going to leave here with a better appreciation of what the Lynchburg Fire Department is all about, and I think Lynchburg Fire Department will have a better appreciation of what Heritage Football is all about."

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