By Josh Peterson, editor
For the Coffee County Central High School Red Raider football team, the path to a program turnaround is painfully slow. Literally.
Under new head coach Ryan Sulkowski, the Red Raiders are taking things one repetition, one day at a time.
“We just want to outwork people… We are going to outwork people,” said Sulkowski.
During the month of June, the Raiders have been in the weight room and out on the practice field. But not in pads. They have been conditioning tirelessly.
“June is a month to really beat them up physically,” explained Sulkowski. “We are getting their bodies ready and acclimated to what is coming as it gets hotter and things get more physical.”
The tough nature of workouts has put a dent in the number of participants attending workouts. But the dent has been small, which has surprised Sulkowski.
“I give the kids credit, they are hanging in there. We started around the 120 mark and are around 110 [players] now. So we have lost a few. This is why we don’t have a cut policy. I believe that if you put in and do the work that we ask of you and you make it through that then you deserve to be here – no matter what the skill level.”
Monday, the Raiders began working on more football-related activities, refreshing X’s and O’s from spring practice and introducing the information to upcoming freshmen and players who missed spring workouts while playing other sports.
“We are definitely still in the early stages.”
After the TSSAA mandatory dead period, which takes up the last week in June and the first week in July and prohibits player-coach contact, the Raiders will be in full preparation for the first official practice in pads, which can be held Monday, July 28.
“July we will really be getting full tilt in our 7-on-7 [passing] stuff and linemen oriented activities,” explained Sulkowski.
He added that the team won’t be attending any camps outside of Coffee County this summer.
“We really need to worry about ourselves first,” he said. “We had a lot of guys, especially skill guys, who are just learning. Next year will be a whole different ball game. But this year, as far as camps, we may throw with another team here and there but no major camps.”
The Raiders open the regular season Aug. 22 at Battle Ground Academy. The team will host its first game the following week against Rhea County.
The Raiders are coming off a winless season that ended with a tough loss to Tullahoma and ultimately head coach Lee Davis’ resignation.