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Local schools compete in drills to improve over the summer

NATCHEZ — Summer workouts aren’t what they used to be — just ask Trinity football coach David King.

King and members of his 2010 squad took part in the Natchez High School seven-on-seven event the school’s been putting on once a week in June. Given the level of talent today’s athletes exhibit, King said it’s not good enough to simply have them conditioning during the summer.

“There are a lot of skills involved. Athletes are so skilled nowadays, you can’t just weight lift and run sprints all summer,” King said.

“You have to do these seven-on-seven drills. We always weight lift hard and run hard, but we try to do as many of these as we can.”

If the other area schools’ activities are any indication, King isn’t alone in that opinion. Natchez, Trinity, ACCS and Cathedral are all finding time to get seven-on-seven drills in during the summer, be it inter-squad or outside competition.

Natchez coach Lance Reed said the school has tried to get different teams from around the area to participate in the drills.

“We’re just trying to work on our passing game, and these have been great from a standpoint of timing and working on things in your scheme,” Reed said.

“Coach Ivan Evans, our offensive coordinator, has gathered a lot of teams in our area, like Franklin County, Jefferson County, Wilkinson County and South Pike. This is a great opportunity to compete against others, because competition is important as far as team development.”

And even though the Trinity squad is competing against players in a higher classification, King said they’re not shying away from the challenge.

“We have some good athletes, and they’re competitors. We always preach that we want to go up against people that are better than ourselves. We have to push ourselves against better competition and the weather, because it sure is hot out here,” King said.

Not all the local schools have the luxury of doing seven-on-seven drills each week. ACCS coach Paul Hayles said his players have had to balance football time with time for other sports.

“A school our size, we have kids that play four or five sports, and we’re excited about that, but that’s a lot of time management they have to learn,” Hayles said.

“We don’t necessarily do seven-on-seven work each week because our guys are doing basketball and baseball camps along with ours.”

That hasn’t stopped Hayles from being pleased with what he’s seen so far out of his players this summer, he said.

“I’m excited about the progress we’ve made. We’ve had great attendance all summer long,” Hayles said.

“We do our weight lifting and conditioning in the mornings and evening along with seven-on-seven drills at different times. We’ve also got some scrimmages planned and a couple camps our guys are attending, so it’s a very active calendar.”

The calendar has also been very active for Cathedral’s football team. In between Belhaven strength coach Garret Rayborn revamping Cathedral’s weight lifting program, and former Ole Miss offensive lineman Justin Sawyer putting on a lineman camp, Cathedral players have been quite busy so far this summer.

“I’ve been really pleased. Our kids are working extremely hard, and I couldn’t ask for anything more than what they’re giving, because they’re giving 100 percent in everything,” head coach Ron Rushing said.

Even with all the conditioning and camps, Rushing said he’s also found time for his team to get seven-on-seven drills in.

“We did some seven-on-sevens last week, and hopefully we’re going to do those every week until a week or two before the season starts,” Rushing said.

“We’ve been doing some against ourselves, and against others. Last week, we went to Trinity, and we had a good time. Next week, we’ll go over to Natchez on Tuesday, and they’ll come to our place on Thursday.”

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