Learning how to compete and being able to control the line of scrimmage.
Those are things new Coffee County Central High School head football coach Ryan Sulkowski wants to emphasize in the weight room before spring practice.
So far so good, according to the coach.
“The effort is 100 percent there. The way they are working right now there is no lack of effort. We have to get a lot stronger but that will come,” said Sulkowski after a day of putting the team through an intense power-clean workout.
“We preach every repetition is one play and we have to win the play, win the quarter and win the game. That is the mentality we have to have in the weight room to make it competitive and make it a football environment; opposed to just going in and saying we are going to lift weights.”
The Raiders spent last week maxing out to see where the team is strength wise and the coach said it went better than expected and, for that, credited his assistant coaches.
“Right now we are lifting a little heavier than I thought we would be,” explained Sulkowski. “Coy [Sisk], Randy Horn and Brandon McWhorter have been working with them in the weight room the last two months and you can tell they have done a great job getting the guys on track.”
The work is already showing reward for the team. Sixteen players reached a new power clean max on Monday.
The clean and front squats are going to be the focus of the team’s workout program in the spring because, according to Sulkowski, the first thing the team has to do is get stronger. To start the team is doing those lifts twice a week but will eventually go up to four times a week.
“We will eventually go to four days a week where we do power clean but right now we are going to work on our technique first. It is the most complete lift you can do as far as hips and lower body strength.
“We have to take baby steps and improve every week, not everyone is going to lift more every week but they will get there. As long as the functional strength is there and it shows up on the football field, that is what is most important,” explained Sulkowski.
One of the ways the team is learning to compete in the weight room is learning to not miss any repetitions. If one player misses a rep, the entire team has to go back and make it. The coach said on Monday the team only had two missed reps in the entire workout.
“To only have two reps missed is impressive but they know if they miss a rep the team has to go back and do it again. We are just trying to be competitive and bring that football mentality into the weight room.
“I think the kids actually are enjoying it but it is hard work and that is something they will appreciate,” said Sulkowski. “Right now it is about getting some strength and learning how to compete one-on-one with that bar.”
Another thing the coach knows he has to change is the mindset of the team after an 0-10 season.
“I asked everyone at the end of the workout today – how many of them think we can compete and beat everybody on our schedule and there were about five guys who raised their hand. I told them I am going to remind them of that in August and by that time there are going to be about 75 hands raised in the air.
“I think just changing the mindset and getting stronger are the biggest things. I think the talent is there.”
Right now there are around 45 players attending workouts but Sulkowski says he knows there are at least 25 more currently in other sports…
Read more in this week’s (Feb. 5) print edition of the Manchester Times.