The reward for all of that hard work was no spring practice.
Reward, however, might be stretching things a little bit.
The Georgia High School Association recently instituted an option for teams to either hold 10 days of spring practice, as they have in the past, or have an extra scrimmage during the preseason.
Mount Paran coach Mitch Jordan chose the extra scrimmage, giving his players some extra time off.
“We decided not to have spring practice, because a lot of our kids play other sports, and it didn’t make sense for us to bring in only a few guys to compete,” he said. “We have several guys that play three sports, and some of them, like the guys on the baseball team, went deep into the postseason, so they wouldn’t have been around.
“Plus, with exams, I just felt like we could take advantage of the second scrimmage. I think it would benefit them.”
With 10 starters returning on offense and all 11 on defense, Jordan had even more luxury of forfeiting spring practice in favor of the extra scrimmage. The Eagles only had a few losses, including kicker Dallas Kepler and lineman Jacob Ramsey.
“Having so many guys back made the decision a little bit easier,” Jordan said. “If I were a new coach, or we were a young team that needed the work, or we were trying to work in a new offensive scheme, then I would have probably had spring practice. The guys would have needed the work to help them get up to speed.
“We’re going to run the same system we ran last year, and all of those guys know what it is, so there wasn’t a big need to reteach it. Things just worked out.”
The decision to hold a second scrimmage meant Jordan had to find an opponent for his team to play. Oglethorpe County, a Class AA school near Athens, will visit Mount Paran for one of the Eagles’ two scrimmages.
“They’ll come here for a controlled scrimmage, and we’ll get another opportunity to evaluate the kids and see what kind of team we’ll be next season,” Jordan said.
Having been around his players for so long, Jordan believes not having spring practice won’t be a detriment to his players.
“I think a lot of the guys will be more anxious to get started in the fall for preseason and summer workouts,” he said. “They’ll be eager to get the pads and helmets on and get after it.
“We have high expectations for next season. It’s a close-knit, hard-working group. I want them to enjoy their summer and come back Aug. 1, ready for some football.”