The wet weather is doing all it can to thwart the first-week efforts of high school football teams to put in time on the practice field. The Walker Valley Mustangs have not been spared from the drenching rains and have spent the better part of the first week of practice indoors.
Mustangs coach Glen Ryan said the weather may have slowed progress a bit, but built in safety nets will help the team catch up and be fully prepared for the Aug. 17 opener against East Ridge.
“I don’t think it’s going to hurt us too bad. We sat down and put together a pretty extensive plan right after I took the job. We sat down, met and kind of planned our whole summer out, and put things in place to make sure that we’ve got everything installed before the season starts,” he said. “We are doing a lot more than we have done in the past.
Ryan said he will shortly be implementing a week of two-a-days in shorts and helmets before the Mustangs take to the practice field in full pads. “That week will be a big week,” he said.
The coach went on to say the Mustangs can further expect intensive training when the pads go on in the form of two all-day mini-camps at the end of the month.
“Those should help us catch up with anything that we might have gotten behind in because of the weather. You always expect this time of the year to get some crazy weather with the heat that brings up storms. You can’t ever tell when they are going to blow in or blow out, so you have got to have a little flexibility built in,” he stated.
“The guys have been working hard. We’ve got some great kids. We’ve got to get a little tougher, mentally and physically. We are still working on those aspects. But, we’ve got a good core group,” said Ryan. “A big key for us is going to be how quick our younger guys develop and come on to give us some depth.”
Weather issues, according to Ryan, also should not put a big dent in offensive and defensive formation installations. It may take a bit more time to get the programs implemented, but time in the gym has been well spent.
“We are not as far along as we’d like to be at this point. We were hoping to be a little bit further on in getting some things in and making some progress on both sides of the ball,” Ryan said about lack of time on the practice field. “The other night we went into the gym and got a lot done.”
“We’ve been doing a lot of meetings and lifting. We are still doing our strength and conditioning as well as our running program. We’ve been meeting on the boards and we’ve been in the gym. We’ve gotten a lot done considering the weather, but we’ve a lot to do still.”
Even with practice going indoors for the most part this week, the Mustangs’ coaching staff has been able to get somewhat of an eyeball on who did their offseason homework as far as workouts and conditioning.
“There are some guys who definitely benefitted during our offseason and did a great job. And there are some guys who probably didn’t do quite as much as they should have and could have,” Ryan said. “They are going to have to kind of play catchup. It’s hard to do that. It’s hard to catch up a winter’s worth of offseason weights in a month. They realize that and they are paying the price for it right now. You can’t hide. You do what you are supposed to do, it’s going to show. You don’t do what you are supposed to do, it’s going to show, too.”
Just because a little rain has put a slowdown to what Ryan was hoping to be all-out practices, doesn’t mean the Mustangs will spend countless hours doing nothing but watching film and drawing up plays. A fair amount of time will be spent pushing the iron in an effort to build the beef.
“We plan on lifting. That was built in. We are going to lift throughout the season. We started back in December hitting it hard. We are going to lift through the season and continually work on trying to get stronger. Because we need to. We’re not quite where we need to be. We are starting to finally have guys that are starting to get where they need to be for this-size program.”
Ryan said at this point there are no seven-on-seven passing scrimmages scheduled. He cites changes to the defense as the main reason the Mustangs will wait a bit on passing league competition.
“We are just not at that point yet,” he said. “We made a lot of changes on defense and I don’t want to put our kids out there until they are ready to go. Some of these programs have had the same system in place and they are going 90 miles and hour. We’re not there yet.”
Ryan said the Mustangs are working hard to get to the point where they are ready to be tested and have made noticeable strides in evening workouts.
“We hope before we get into pads we can get a couple of schools to come in and look at doing something so we can see how we stand against somebody else,” he said.
Walker Valley does have a full team scrimmage set the first week in pads with Chattanooga Central, in Harrison.