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Hartselle Enquirer

Shaping up

By Staff
Summer workouts prepare local teams for football season
Justin Schuver, Hartselle Enquirer
Few sports feature the orchestra of sounds that surrounds a high school football game – the crunching of pads, the music of the band, the cheering of the audience.
But for now, the only soundtrack is the crashing of iron weights; the only audience the coaching staff bellowing orders and encouragement.
Hartselle, like other high schools in this football-crazy state, is already hard at work preparing for the upcoming season. Three days each week, the Tigers participate in early-morning weight lifting and aerobic workouts.
"As coaches, we really look at this like the most important time of the year," Hartselle head football coach Bob Godsey said. "These kinds of programs are what it takes for a team to get to Birmingham (for the state championship), and that's always been our goal here."
Godsey has developed a weight lifting-exercise program for his team that includes a full workout on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 6-8:30 a.m. One hour is spent with weight lifting and the remaining time involves running and calisthenics.
Hartselle has had recent success in past seasons, making the playoffs five of the last six years including an 11-win season in 2006. Because of the Tigers' tradition, Godsey said it is not difficult to convince his team to attend the workouts, even though they are not mandatory.
"We're fortunate to have kids who are willing to show up and work hard," he said. "Some of the younger ones have seen the success of our teams in past years and they know that our summer programs have a lot to do with that success in the fall."
Falkville coach Neil Estes has installed a similar program with the Blue Devils and it has already paid off dividends. Estes' teams have advanced to the playoffs in each of his first two seasons as the Blue Devils' coach.
Falkville's players also participate in workouts, though they have a few more options than Hartselle's. The Blue Devils can either workout in the morning on Monday and Friday or in the evening on Tuesday and Thursday. Estes asks for his players to try to make at least three workouts each week.
"It's tough for our guys sometimes because we have so many playing multiple sports," he said. "We're a small school and some of these boys have basketball and baseball stuff going on as well, so it stretches them pretty thin."
Brewer coach Billy Coleman also gives his team a choice between either working out in the morning from 5:30-7 a.m. or in the evening. He wants to focus on getting the Patriots stronger, a necessity to compete in the tough region Brewer shares with perennial powers Hartselle, Russellville, Athens and Decatur.
"It's pretty much just about weights and running," Coleman said of his team's summer program. "We might go over some plays one day a week, but it's usually just about trying to get stronger and faster."
At Hartselle, the players arrive early in the morning and typically split up into groups by position – backs and receivers will be in one group, linemen in another group, and so on. One group will work out in the weight room while another will do some kind of running or movement, then the groups will rotate.
At this point, Godsey said the summer program is more about building up strength and focusing on fundamentals. Although there will occasionally be some instruction about actual plays, the bigger emphasis is on improving the basics.
"We try to mix things up as far as the movement part of the morning goes," he said. "Some days they'll just do straight running; other days we'll do some calisthenics; then sometimes we'll actually do a little instruction and go over some of the plays we might run in our 7-on-7 camps or something like that."
The 7-on-7 camps are another important facet of Hartselle's summer program. This year, the Tigers will participate in three of the camps, which are designed to allow a team to run some offensive and defensive sets. The only restriction is there are no linemen on the field (hence the 7-on-7) and players are not in pads.
This year, Hartselle will host a 7-on-7 camp on June 28 and will travel to two camps in July – one at UNA and one at Birmingham-Southern. Once again, Godsey said the focus at these camps will be improving the fundamentals heading into August's two-a-days and eventually the regular practices and season itself.
"There are certain things you can do at the 7-on-7 camps that will make you successful in terms of the camp competition itself, but those things don't always translate to the regular season the same way," he said. "We're going into these camps with the mindset that we don't care if we lose every game (at the 7-on-7 camp) as long as it ultimately helps us get ready for when the games really count in the fall."
Brewer plans to compete in a few 7-on-7 camps, though Coleman does not really know how much they will help the Patriots offensively.
"Our offense uses a lot of play-action passes and doesn't use too much of the spread offense," he said. "Obviously at a 7-on-7 camp, it's pretty much pointless to try and run a play-action play so I don't think it helps us too much. Where it does help us is defensively, because a lot of the teams we'll play this season use a spread-type attack."
Football isn't the only sport that takes advantage of the summer months. As a result, Godsey and other coaches are forced to balance their summer routines with the coaches of other sports to avoid conflicts. He said the closeness of the coaches at Hartselle have made avoiding conflicts easier than it might be at other schools.
"For example, this past week I had a few players who also play basketball and they had a camp going on that Tuesday," he said. "Rather than lifting Tuesday, we opened up the weight room for that group on Wednesday morning and they did their lifts then. I excused them from the running part, because they obviously had that covered after playing the basketball games at the camp.
"For the most part, the kids who play baseball do their summer workouts in the evening and we take the morning. Also, basketball and baseball do most of their camps in June and we do ours in July. There really aren't a lot of conflicts."

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