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Passes bring high school football teams closer together

 

Adam Minichino

 

Each pass brings teams closer to the start of the 2009 high school football season. 

 

That''s why more and more teams are trying to get as many repetitions as they can in the next two months before school reconvenes in August. 

 

Columbus High School football coach Bubba Davis is going to do his best to make sure his team and others in the area are busy. 

 

Davis and the Falcons played host Tuesday to the first of what he hopes are several evenings of 7-on-7 passing competition. 

 

East Oktibbeha and Lamar County (Ala.) joined Davis'' ''A'' and ''B'' teams for more than two hours of 7-on-7 play that all agreed will help everyone. 

 

"This is great way to condition," Davis said. "If you can run and have fun and get in shape while you''re doing it, that is a part of doing this. Hopefully, you''re going to get better running your routes and understanding your defense and you''ll be able to play better once practice starts." 

 

The Falcons finished in the Final Four at the Mississippi State 7-on-7 passing camp June 13. He said the team showed at that event that it is learning how to fight and not give up so easily. He hopes to reinforce that mind-set each time the players take the field. 

 

Davis already has seen a marked improvement from last season when the Falcons won just one game. 

 

"We''re head and shoulders above where we were last year," Davis said. "We have made a lot of progress. The weight room can help you more than anything. When you get strong, you feel a whole lot more confident, you''re going to play a lot better, and you don''t want to quit as easy. We hope we work them hard enough that they''re not going to want to quit when things start going bad and they get behind." 

 

Davis said the Falcons can hold six more 7-on-7 sessions, and he hopes to attract as many local teams to the events.  

 

Second-year East Oktibbeha High coach Anthony King said he was pleased with his team''s first 7-on-7 experience. He said all of his skill players weren''t able to attend Tuesday night''s 7-on-7 work, but he said the mistakes made by the players who were there will help the entire team improve. 

 

"I think the guys did real good," King said. "It was good to get them into shape and get them more conditioning. We''re going to continue to do it all summer." 

 

King hopes the work in the summer will help his 35- to 40-player squad prepare for 2009. He said the team didn''t have an offseason last year in part due to his transition to becoming the head coach. 

 

King also said East Oktibbeha will have to battle problems schools like Columbus High don''t have. He said he tries to do weight training three days a week, but he said many of his players live 30 to 40 minutes from the school, which makes it difficult for them to get transportation to workouts. 

 

Still, he said huge is excited about his young team and that he believes participating in 7-on-7 work will make the Titans better. 

 

"We''re doing more than we did last year and we expect the results to come this fall," said King, who will have only three seniors on this year''s team. "A lot more of the guys are committed. They are hungry to start back winning, and they have committed themselves in the summer." 

 

Aug. 3 also is the first day of practice for Alabama public high schools. Lamar County coach Ken Adams plans to use the next two months to get rising senior quarterback Michael Bradford in step with his receivers so the Bulldogs can be even more balanced when it comes to running and throwing the football. 

 

"Last year was our first experience with 7-on-7, and this is our first game," Adams said. "I think our kids from where we were last year to now is a big difference in how they take this. We''re pleased with their effort, and that is a key." 

 

Adams said the 7-on-7 passing competition helps his defense just as it helps his offense. He said cornerbacks Will Franks and Eric "Turbo" Hudson get a lot of one-on-one work that will prepare them for the season. 

 

Offensively, Adams said the 7-on-7 work helps Bradford because it allows him to get more confident moving in the pocket and reading the field. 

 

"He can see how the routes develop so when you get in a game he knows where they are supposed to be," Adams said. "He is a much better threat when he gets to eye on half of the field. This stuff helps him realize where and when to throw the football. Watching him you can see his progression. He has better touch this year than he did last year. Hopefully it will be the point where we can throw it eight to 10 times a game this year." 

 

 

Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.

 

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