Time for two-a-days

Published 12:04 pm Tuesday, July 27, 2010

As dawn broke over Mississippi on Monday, Vicksburg High’s football players were conducting an odd game of leapfrog on dew-soaked grass.

Across town at Warren Central, players spent an hour in the classroom before donning their helmets. At St. Aloysius, the Flashes worked on their kick and punt coverage during a portion of practice that seemed lifted from the middle of the season.

A couple of hours later, at Porters Chapel, the Eagles lifted weights and did a series of conditioning drills, opting to leave the football for later.

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On the first day teams were able to practice, the way they went about it was as varied as the colors of the uniforms. Seeking ways to change up the routine or keep their players’ attention, Warren County’s coaches experimented with different methods to accomplish their goals.

“While we’re conditioning, we might as well get some special teams in. We worked on their lane assignments,” St. Al coach B.J. Smithhart said after the first of his team’s two scheduled practices on Monday. St. Al will continue two-a-day workouts through next week. “It gives them a little break. They’re listening, learning, and it’s something different.”

Warren Central focused on the learning part during its first day of two-a-days. The Vikings spent an hour going over concepts on the chalkboard and watching film before hitting the practice field just after 7 a.m. A two-hour workout followed, focusing on fundamentals and position work.

Another brief team meeting preceded the evening workout. First-year WC coach Josh Morgan said the team would follow the same schedule the rest of the week. The Vikings conclude two-a-days on Wednesday, then will have a single practice in the morning on Thursday and Friday before taking the weekend off.

“Coaches don’t have to teach, the players don’t have school. It’s a good time to meet with the guys and make sure they know where they’re supposed to be,” Morgan said. “We try to go over everything in meetings before practice, so when we practice it goes smooth.”

At St. Al, Smithhart also mixed in some football with his conditioning drills. The Flashes worked on kick and punt coverages in between running sprints. He is trying a scheduling tweak, however, by having two-a-day workouts continue through next week.

Meanwhile, at Vicksburg, coach Alonzo Stevens opted for an old school approach. The Gators’ first workout was heavy on conditioning, a pattern that Stevens said will continue until two-a-days wrap up on Friday. The team will have a full-pad scrimmage on Saturday.

“We’re doing fundamentals, but we’re really going to work them. Put as much as we can on them with conditioning,” Stevens said as he watched his players perform a three-man leapfrog drill, where two players jumped over another who was rolling on the ground.

Unlike many teams that wind down their offseason programs in late June, Porters Chapel took it into mid-July with a series of 7-on-7 games. That resulted in a layoff of less than two weeks and allowed the players to return to the field Monday sharp and in shape.

“We came back after July 4 and had a ton of 7-on-7 games. That got our guys in shape, got them to understand our passing game and in turn, our pass defense,” said John Weaver, who is entering his first season as PCA’s coach. “We’ve installed our pass defense and pass offense. Today we’re going to install the run offense. You don’t have to take three or four days to make sure they understand things.”

Weaver said he has been trying different ways to tinker with the two-a-day format. This time, he’s splitting the two workouts into a conditioning session in the morning followed by an afternoon practice that focuses more on running plays and installing his system.

The Eagles will follow that schedule until Thursday. On Friday they’ll have a morning session and cap the day off with another new wrinkle — a midnight practice.

Teams are allowed to work out in full gear beginning Saturday. Weaver will have the Eagles on the field at 12:01 a.m. and welcomed the public to attend.

“Whoever wants to watch, come watch. The lights will be on. We’re going to be the first team on the field and the last team off,” Weaver said. “It’s psychological. I might have some coaches call me crazy, but I’ve been called worse.”