Taking a bite out of the gym

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 2, 2006

NATCHEZ &8212; For the past two months a group consisting of over 60 Natchez High School football players have been hard at work making sure this fall is a season to remember.

For five days a week the players have met for two hours a day to get bigger stronger and faster.

&8220;What we have tried to instill in the kids is a work ethic,&8221; head coach Lance Reed said. &8220;We&8217;re definitely faster, and stronger. I think the players are mentally tougher too, which is something we have had to work very hard at.&8221;

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Steve Davis one of Reed&8217;s assistants has handled the speed and conditioning half of the summer workouts and has been impressed with the improvements he&8217;s see over the past two months.

&8220;Everyone&8217;s times have dropped,&8221; Davis said. &8220;We are going to be faster this year than I can ever remember us being. It&8217;s a credit to how hard these guys have worked when you look at the drastic improvements in the times we&8217;re seeing.&8221;

Those improvements include going from a team that when the summer started didn&8217;t have anyone running under a 4.7 time in the forty yard dash to now having a few that can run in the 4.5 range.

The improvements can be attributed to Davis&8217; rigorous program which features the old standbys like 20, 40, and 110 yard sprints in addition to innovative programs such as biometrics and aerobics.

&8220;The guys laughed about it at first,&8221; Davis said. Judging by the improvements it is doubtful they were laughing long.

Shane Martin, another assistant to Reed, has been handling the strength training and he too has seen significant improvements.

&8220;Our numbers are up across the board,&8221; Martin said in reference to the players maximum lifts in the bench press, squat and power clean.

But none of the improvements would be taking place without the players and for some reason they seem to have thrown themselves into it whole-heartedly.

&8220;We have been getting faster and stronger,&8221; Johnny Griffin a junior said. &8220;But more importantly we are building on things like leadership skills.&8221;

Griffin&8217;s teammate Desmond Smoot echoed those sentiments.

&8220;It has been going great. The coaches have kept it fun,&8221; Smoot said. &8220;This fall we&8217;re going to surprise some people.&8221;