Grangers sweating in the summer sun
LAGRANGE – LaGrange head coach Dialleo Burks remembers a time when June was a light month, when there weren’t that many activities related to high-school football.
Times have changed.
With the regular season starting in the middle of August, June has become a busy time, with teams making the most out of these summer days.
Last week, LaGrange began its summer strength and conditioning program that will continue through the start of preseason practice on July 25.
LaGrange also has a handful of seven-on-seven competitions scheduled, including one for next week, and many of the players will be attending camps at colleges and universities across the area.
“Everything is rushed now,” said Burks, who is heading into his third season as LaGrange’s head coach. “I remember taking a lot of June off. You were working out in July and August. Not now.”
Burks does make sure the players get time off, so that they’re not physically spent by the time preseason practice rolls around in about six weeks.
“It’s tough on them sometimes,” Burks said. “They want to be kids, and we try to structure the schedule with that in mind. We gave them pretty much the whole month of May off. And every weekend they’re off, and Friday. And we’ve got the dead week. So they’ll have some time.”
It is still a massive commitment for the players, though, and Burks said that’s the price of success.
“If this is what you want to do, this is the life,” Burks said. “This is the life you live.”
LaGrange began its summer program last week, with the players reporting for practice from 9 a.m. until noon from Monday through Thursday.
With the exception of the Georgia High School Association-mandated dead week, which takes place the week of July 4th when teams are prohibited from holding organized activities, LaGrange will maintain that same schedule until the beginning of preseason practice.
In addition to the daily practices, the players also have camps they’ll be attending, and many of them will make recruiting trips to different schools.
Just this week, 15 LaGrange players went to a camp at the University of West Georgia, and a handful of other players accompanied defensive coordinator Marvin Kendricks on a recruiting visit to Kennesaw State.
Burks went with the players to the West Georgia camp, and he said “there were about 1,000 kids out there, so they got a chance to see what it’s like to have minimal reps and have to be ready to go and compete. But from what I saw from most of them, they did pretty good.”
Each of the players went off and worked with a college coach who coaches their specific position.
“They got a chance to see some college coaches out there, and get some instruction from college coaches,” Burks said. “It’s a testament to what we teach them. You run from drill to drill.”
While the players receive valuable instruction at camps such as the one at West Georgia, Burks said they serve as a valuable recruiting tool as well.
Burks lets his players know that when they go to a camp, it’s important that they go prepared to give it their best effort.
“It’s not really a camp. It’s really a tryout,” Burks said. “You have to be ready. You have to be ready to go.”
Burks said the camps offer a nice change of pace for the players, but the most important work is done at the school.
“We’re trying to get out a little bit, as well as getting our work done here,” Burks said. “You don’t want to get so consumed with camps that you lose focus with what you have to do here.”
LaGrange will be hosting a three-team seven-on-seven competition on Wednesday from 9 a.m. until noon, and it will be held at LaGrange College.
Players will be wearing their full uniforms and contact will be allowed, which is different from most seven-on-seven events.
“You’ve got on helmets and shoulder pads. So it’ll be a contact deal,” Burks said. “It’ll be very controlled with what we do. But it’s a chance to see that movement.”
LaGrange will host another seven-on-seven event on June 21.
Beginning on July 25, LaGrange will have one week of conditioning before it can hold a full-contact practice on Aug. 1.
Then on Aug. 5, LaGrange will get things started with a home preseason game against Heard County.
LaGrange visits Newnan on Aug. 11 for a second preseason game before opening the season for real on Aug. 19 against Callaway.
Reach Kevin Eckleberry at (706) 884-7311 or on Twitter @lagrangesports