Football players sacrificing in the summer to showcase their skills in the fall

Published 6:25 pm Friday, June 21, 2024

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It’s summer time, time for kids of all ages to take a break from the rigors of school. During this time of the year, many kids will spend their time having fun at the pool, going on family vacations or doing a plethora of other relaxing summer activities. However, for one group of student-athletes, there isn’t much of a summer break.

High school football players across the state of Georgia are participating in team summer workouts in preparation for their upcoming football seasons and for players playing at Sumter County, Southland Academy and Schley County, that is no exception.

With the exception of the first week in July, when the GHSA mandates that all teams halt summer practices during that time, teams are practicing so that they can be ready for their upcoming seasons. It’s a price that players must pay in order to play high school football, but it’s a price these players are willing to pay to make themselves better and to achieve team goals.

“Summer workouts are going really well,” Sumter County head coach Will Rogers said. “Our kids have a lot of experience coming back and they now understand our expectations. They are working extremely hard.”

According to Rogers, the type of training program that the Sumter County coaching staff is using has really paid off in the past and is expected to pay dividends for the upcoming season.

“Our summer training program is something that we have been building off since my time at Valdosta High School,” Rogers said. “It’s the Moffitt Program that we also used at Creekside and Dutchtown High. We had a lot of success with it.”

According to the training program’s website,, the Moffitt Program provides teams strength and conditioning solutions that empower athletes to excel. The program looks at the needs of each individual sport and school to develop a program specifically designed for victory.

The summer workout programs can be challenging for players, especially the younger ones. “I would say the most challenging things for our younger kids is learning and understanding our expectations of them,” Rogers said. “It’s usually a shock for those younger kids when they initially get to practice. They learn from the older kids and we usually see constant improvement.”

While mandatory attendance varies at our three high schools, they all require attendance at most of the summer workouts. Sumter County requires their athletes to be at every workout unless there is an excused absence or a valid reason to miss the workout. Southland Academy requires their athletes to participate in at least 80 percent of the summer workouts. “Eighty percent is the goal, so they could miss a week and still be good,” said newly hired Southland head football coach Chance Jones. “There are reward incentives at 90 and 100 percent. Anything below 80 percent will be made up in the fall until they get to 80 percent.”

One of the types of practices done by many teams during the summer s the 7-on-7 passing camps in which teams compete against other high schools. Sumter County hosted one of those camps with Fayette County and Turner County on Tuesday, June 18. This was a chance for the Panthers to be in a competitive setting in which they would be competing against somebody other than themselves. According to Coach Rogers, it was a productive day for his squad. “I feel pretty good about today. I really feel like we competed and got better,” Rogers said.

On that same day, Southland Academy competed in a 7-on-7 passing camp over at Marion County. “I was excited to see them compete against a different colored jersey,” Southland head coach Chance Jones said. “I was encouraged by what I saw today, especially given the fact that we have only been together for 11 days of football. At the same time, we have a lot to work on to get where we want to be.”

Schley County has also been busy this summer with their practices. Having been knocked out by Bowden in the state semifinals a year ago and in the state championship game two years ago, the Wildcats are hungry to get back to the state finals and are using the summer practices to prepare themselves for another run towards a state title. They recently went to a camp at the University of Georgia and will have camps with other teams this summer, along with their daily summer practices.