Holy Innovents football Ian Jones

Holy Innocents’ quarterback Ian Jones (6) breaks the huddle during a scrimmage. / Special – Holy Innocents’ Athletics

With the month of July approaching and the previous academic school year completed, the prep football season has entered the summer phase, which includes offseason training.

One aspect of summer training that has seen increased activity within the past five years has been 7-on-7 competitions. The events provide opportunities for the skill-position players, particularly the quarterback, receivers and running backs on offense, along with the linebackers and defensive backs on defense, to face each other in non-padded activities.

Wesleyan, which qualified for the Class A Private state playoffs last year, will host two 7-on-7 events this summer and its lineman participated in a camp held at St. Pius X in early June.

“We always follow an aggressive summer training schedule at Wesleyan,” Wolves head coach Franklin Pridgen said. “We feel it builds a strong team chemistry as well as helping us get a head start on offensive and defensive installation. We have a daily routine that includes speed and strength training plus-on-the-field skills and drills that are football-specific.”

Marist, which reached the Class AAAA state championship game last season, has had an active offseason with the running backs and receivers participating in a passing league every Tuesday night as well as several throwing sessions during the week. The team works out three mornings a week, which includes weightlifting as well as speed and agility training.

“Summer workouts are going well,” War Eagles head coach Alan Chadwick said. “They’re critical for the success of our football team. Players need to get bigger and stronger as well as get in better conditioning shape. We also hope to improve 40 times for those needing to do so. The time our skill position players gain from passing workouts is also very important to us on both sides of the ball.”

While Wesleyan and Marist have head coaches who have each been with their respective programs more than 10 years, other programs led by coaches with shorter tenures find the summer period valuable for continued installation.

Holy Innocents’ will be led by Todd Winter for his second season with the program in 2018. The Golden Bears showed promise in a three-win campaign last season in Class A and are looking to build on it. Their active schedule includes four lifting sessions, three workouts and two 7-on-7 events per week.

“We believe summer workouts are very important in preparing for the season,” Winter said. “We have the opportunity to install offensive and defensive concepts, improve our strength and flexibility and compete against other teams in 7-on-7.”

North Springs reached the Class AAAAA playoffs for the second consecutive season in 2017 under the leadership of head coach Scotty Parker, who was in his first year with the program. The Spartans started its offseason with Phase 1, which concluded with a 34-7 win over Lambert in its spring game scrimmage. The month of June brought about Phase 2.

“(During) June workouts we made great strides in the weight room, getting stronger and in shape to run our ‘Fast n Furious’ high-tempo offense that averaged more than 31 points last season,” Parker said. “Entering into Phase 3 in July, we are looking to ramp up our workouts and field time to get focused on our plays and style of football and out of the 7-on-7 concept.

“July is vital to us making our third consecutive playoff run, which has not been done in school history. We will have all players ready to go, camps finished, vacations and summer school so we can see our true 1s, 2s and 3s. We have a host of new faces to the team that are making huge impacts on both sides of the ball. Summer is going to be short but very productive.”

The summer workouts also allow programs with multiple-sport athletes who weren’t able to participate in spring football to become re-acclimated into the program. Lovett, which reached the second round of the Class AAA playoffs last season, will be one of those teams this summer.

“These opportunities are optional but critical to getting a lot of our basic stuff installed so we can hit the ground running on July 25,” Lions head coach Mike Muschamp said. “We have so many multisport athletes who miss spring. It’s important to get them caught up and repped as much as we can.”

Other Fulton County programs participated in the Corky Kell 7-on-7 Invitational June 15 at the Roswell Areas Parks Football Complex. The event was a single-elimination competition with the field consisting of 35 programs from around the state. Blessed Trinity, Milton and Centennial also held preliminary morning contests on their campuses.

Blessed Trinity won its first game over Centennial but dropped its match to Walton 23-13. Roswell reached the knockout stage with a win over West Forsyth and was eliminated in the next round with a 37-0 loss to eventual champion Marietta. Alpharetta fell to Monroe Area 28-19 in the first round. Milton dropped its first-round contest to Kell 23-21.

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