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Davis and crew build up the youth

POSTED: August 2, 2014 2:00 p.m.
Photo Courtesy Shane Davis/

Many of the youth league football players met with Apalachee's football coaches Tuesday at a community clinic intended to get them acclimated to the terminology and the basic plans of the varsity team. A lot of these young men will go on to join Apalachee's varsity football team in a few years.

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High school football season gets started soon, making this one of the busiest and most stressful times of the year for high school football coaches. Even so, the staff at Apalachee High School took time out of their hectic schedule to play around.

This past Tuesday, the Wildcat coaches welcomed Apalachee’s youth and recreation football coaches and players out for a fun community clinic featuring drills and a question and answer session for the coaches.

According to Shane Davis, Apalachee’s head varsity football coach, the clinic was a great treat for everyone involved.

The tradition of bringing out the recreation football coaches goes way back for Davis and it works to benefit both sides as an excellent mutual agreement.

“We always have a time at the beginning of the year where we bring out the recreation coaches to meet our staff and answer questions and help them get to a point where we’re on the same page with formations, at least, and things like that,” Apalachee varsity football coach Shane Davis explained. “We don’t expect 9-year olds to do all the things that high schoolers can do, but to learn some of the formations and the terminology and things like that can really help.”

With the kids getting exposure to Davis’ formations and schemes early on, they should be able to adapt even quicker when they get to high school. 

For the youth coaches, it gives them a chance to bounce ideas and questions off an experienced staff of high school coaches with great ideas for how to elevate their teams to an even higher level.

“We had answered a lot of their questions in the camp. We went over everything from starts and stances, just like we would do with our kids,” Davis explained while listing a number of drills the kids went through. “Then it came to just some base defensive alignments and base offensive plays.”

The assistance goes beyond one night in late summer, though, as Davis and his staff boast a genial relationship with the coaches they work with.

“We just have an open door policy with them, and they know that. We’re here for them and we’ll meet with them. We’ll look at film, and they have the opportunity with the internet now for us to go online and look at our films…and we can communicate without being in person,” Davis noted. “We’ll do whatever we need to do.”

Although the coaches are used to this kind of openness with the Apalachee staff, the youth players were new to this experience of getting to work with the guys who coach on Friday nights, but Davis and Kurt Cooper of Barrow County Parks and Recreation decided to try something different this time around.

“We just decided to try this and get the kids out here. We thought it would be fun for them,” Davis noted. “Plus, we get to get out there with them. Their coaches get to see us when we’re out there. Their coaches got to watch us coach them through fundamental drills. It ended up being a good night.

“It was good. It really was. It’s different. The thing that’s really different is the pace and the speed of it. It’s slower than what you’re used to at the high school level, but the kids are eager and they have great attitudes and they’re running around. Sometimes they’re not sure where they’re running, but they’re running around,” Davis joked.

While this year’s clinic looked different from those in the past, it served essentially the same purpose. While a lot of the time was spent with the youth coaches, the idea is to primarily prepare kids for their future football home with some tertiary benefits for the coaches.

 “I don’t know if it benefits the coaches so much, but I think it puts everybody on the same page. It does help them in the future that if they have questions we’re comparing apples to apples. If they’re doing something different and they’re asking questions, we’re not going to be on the same page,” Davis explained. “If we’re using the same terminology and base looks, then it’s very easy to say, ‘Hey, we would do this.’”

Overall, the clinic served as an opportunity to expose these future Wildcats to the type of game they should expect to play when they get to the high school playing field. 

Many of the kids who attended Tuesday’s event will be on the field and under the lights of a Friday night football game one day, and Davis wants them to have an idea of what to expect when their turn comes around.

“Down the road…we’re the ones who are probably going to benefit the most because we’re going to get a group of kids who have heard this terminology and this base stuff for a number of years by the time they get to us,” Davis admitted.

With so many programs building their youth up from an early age, the only way to compete in the region and in the state long term is to have an inclusive program designed to train up younger athletes and prepare them for a position in high school.

This way, the turnaround from year to year is less disastrous and the new group comes in ready to go.

“As far as the base…blocking and tackling…we’ll get into some formations and that helps, but at the end of the day, the most important thing is the basics of football. It all goes back to blocking and tackling,” Davis explained. “To teach that at a younger age, if you’re doing that right, then the kids can progress to other things a whole lot faster.”

With 10 years in the Apalachee program under his belt, Davis has seen many of these kids come in from the youth camps and fill a spot even better because they had the experience necessary to do so.

“I can’t remember names because it’s gotten so blurry having been here so long, but we’ve had numerous kids who have been a part of our program that came through our youth camps we have here every summer and from our rec leagues,” Davis pointed out. 

“Really, it makes it a more relaxed atmosphere for them because when they show up, especially as freshmen, they already know us a little bit.”

For many of these kids, the dream is to become an Apalachee Wildcat. With such a unique opportunity to play for Apalachee and to train up under those coaches, these clinics are a great environment for young football players to hone their skills and develop their talents, especially because it feeds their dream of one day wearing the blue and gold.

“It’s humbling for us as coaches to know that you’re part of a program that these kids want to be a part of and they have this joy of coming out here on a Friday night,” Davis concluded.

While the future Wildcats get into the spirit of recreation football, the big boys on the varsity football team get ready for the first of two scrimmages on Aug. 8 at Morgan County. The second scrimmage brings Monroe Area to Apalachee on Aug. 15 before the Wildcats open the regular season with a three-game road stretch, including the season opener at Woodland in Henry County on Aug. 29 and the cross-town rivalry with Winder-Barrow on Sep. 5.

 

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