Era head football coach Aaron Fortenberry knows he has to strike a delicate balance between working the athletes too hard in the summer and being too lax about their conditioning.

So during the Hornets’ summer conditioning program, Fortenberry isn’t taking things too seriously, but he still wants to maintain a sense of urgency for the athletes.

“There hasn’t been any complaining and they show up with good attitudes and they’ve been getting to work,” Fortenberry said. “A lot of it is weightlifting and we start every day with our strength conditioning. That’s kind of what we focus on this time of the year is getting in shape, and trying to get as much strength as we go into the season. Football-wise, it’s just kind of like skill stuff. I’m not huge in going out there and having a full-scale practice.”

Fortenberry said he knows it is important not to work too hard.

“You kind of have to give kids time to be kids and that’s kind of our philosophy,” Fortenberry said. “We’re a small school, so I don’t want kids to burn out. However, we still don’t want to be behind on things. We’re still gonna work on some stuff and they’re having fun while they are here. That’s still important to us.”

With football practice officially beginning Aug. 5, Fortenberry said the team can’t afford to come into practice out of shape.

“The biggest thing is I want us to be in shape because we kind of like having up-tempo practices and moving around and I don’t want there to be a lot of sluggishness,” Fortenberry said. “Obviously, we give them breaks and I don’t want to kill them, but I don’t want to have to be taking off so much that we’re missing practice time for having to take breaks or get in shape and all that kind of stuff.”

This will be Fortenberry’s third upcoming season as head coach and he said he knows the familiarity with the kids is much higher, which he said should pay off this season.

“We’re going to have the biggest senior class we’ve had in a while and all of those kids have had good experience,” Fortenberry said. “And that’s always a huge deal going into the summer. You can show up and there’s not going to be a whole lot of fresh teaching. It’ll be a lot of reminding, but we will be a step ahead than we were last year before just because it’s the same thing —same coaching staff, same system, all that kind of stuff.”

Patrick Hayslip can be reached at or on Twitter at @PatrickHayslip