Eagles make adjustments as summer work begins
By By BRUCE HIXON Sports Editor
One would expect a coach to make some adjustments from his first to second year and W.S. Neal Blue Eagles football coach Shane Smothers is doing just that with this year's summer conditioning program.
The first noticeable difference is simply when the summer program is starting.
"Last year we started the day after Memorial Day, but this year we gave the kids another week off. We knew we'd be pushing the players real hard this first month so we gave them a few extra days off at the start. The other thing is I just wanted to see how our players would react with that extra time off. They've come back very anxious and ready to work," Smothers said.
Another difference this year is Smothers has limited the number of workout sessions available during a day.
"Last year we had a couple of morning time slots where the players could come in and we also had an afternoon session for those players who were attending summer school," Smothers said. "This year we've combined the two morning groups into one in addition to the one we have in the afternoon for the summer school players. We play as a team and we wanted the players to work out as a team so that is why we combined the two morning sessions."
The Blue Eagles are working out four days a week, Mondays through Thursdays, throughout June. That program will be trimmed back a day in July to Mondays through Wednesdays. The morning sessions run from 6:30 a.m. to about 8:30 a.m. The afternoon program runs from 1:30 p.m. to about 3 p.m.
"We go early in the day in order to beat the heat and to allow kids who have summer jobs time to get to work. After we're done in the morning, we're going over to W.S. Neal Middle School for breakfast," Smothers said. "The afternoon session is a little shorter because we don't have too many players, maybe five to 10, in it and we can get our work done a lot quicker."
Approximately 45 players were at Monday's first day of conditioning. That figure included about five freshmen.
"We're encouraging our freshmen to attend at least a couple days of week, but the door is certainly open for them to come to all four days," Smothers said.
The Blue Eagles will spend about half their summer in the weightroom and the other half outdoors.
"Our weightroom work will consist of mainly bench press, squats and power clean. The power clean is probably the area we emphasize the most because it helps the entire body and it benefits every player regardless of what position they play," Smothers said. "Throughout June we'll emphasize repititions and endurance. When we move into July, we'll get more into strength."
The outdoor work consists of various running drills on the track as well as seven-on-seven competitions.
"We're going to wear the track out with various distance and sprint drills, but we're also going to do a lot of throwing and catching. We're here to work, but we also want the kids to have some fun," Smothers said. "We'll play a lot of intrasquad seven-on-seven, but we'll also be taking about 30 players to a seven-on-seven camp at Russellville High School later in the summer."