When it comes to summer football workouts — coaches have three options.
They can choose to load up on 7-on-7 passing leagues, work among themselves or do a combination of both.
So which is the proven method to building and sustaining a winning program?
In this sense, there really isn’t a right or wrong answer. Depending on who you ask, you will get a variety of replies from coaches across the state.
The right answer is perhaps — all of the above.
Just as coaches chose their offensive and defensive scheme, they must choose the right offseason workout routine to fit their personnel.
What works at Lovejoy, might not be the right method for Dutchtown. Stockbridge’s offseason workouts can be totally different from Riverdale’s, but in the end, it might produce the same results.
The right method for a coach is to put his team and program in the best situation to be successful.
Some choose to travel the state, and even the Southeast, playing against other teams on a weekly basis. Others work quietly in their own backyards to refine their skills.
A good showing in a 7-on-7 tournament doesn’t necessarily translate into a winning season. Years ago, a coach once told me that his team is state champions in passing league, but the problem comes when they add the other elements to the game.
His team would go on to a 7-4 record, getting bounced in the first round of the playoffs.
But that isn’t always the case. Let’s take Lovejoy for instance. Last summer they tore up the passing league circuit by winning some big tournaments throughout the area, including one at the University of Virginia.
The Wildcats would follow that with a 13-2 record that landed them in the state finals for a second straight season.
But let’s be honest, the Wildcats probably had the top skills players in the state with the majority of them leading high-level Div. I scholarships.
This group would have been OK if it had spent last summer working among themselves each day.
But to be ready for an upgraded non-region schedule and the state’s highest classification of talent, veteran coach Al Hughes did the right thing and loaded the summer schedule with some of the best opposition.
“You just can’t get that kind of competition behind the school building playing against yourself,” Locust Grove coach Clint Satterfield said.
And for the coaches that are trying to rebuild a program, high-level summer competition might be the right formula.
“To have the Lovejoys out there and Stockbridge — nobody has speed like Stockbridge — I think we’ll compete well with those guys,” Mount Zion coach Ervin Starr said. “The longer we go into the summer, the more you see your team coming together. For the most part, as far as our receivers and backs go, this helps us a lot.”
Only the upcoming season will tell.
Derrick Mahone is the sports editor of the Clayton News Daily and Henry Daily Herald newspapers. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter? Follow him @DerrickMahone_