Rain can't dampen progress of RVHS football team
It may be difficult to think about football season with the summer months just setting in, but that’s exactly what the Royal Valley High School team was doing last week as the Panthers got together for their summer camp.
While some inclement weather (heavy rain) during the week threw a wrench in the works and forced the Panthers inside for two of the five days, RV coach Jacob Lott noted his team handled that in stride and didn’t lose sight of the important goals.
“The main thing is camp’s about installing stuff and learning things. We can do that in the gym if it’s done right as well as we can outside,” Lott said. “With what we can do in the summer nowadays, between seven-on-seven and doing some stuff after weights and some full pads camp stuff, we’ll be able to catch up or at least acclimate from being inside and transition what we learned inside to what we need to do outside.”
Lott said that if it was during the season, the team would have practiced outside, but in camp it is important to strike a balance between learning and getting things accomplished and he noted his players were able to block out the distractions and get that done in the RVHS gym.
In total, there were about 40 athletes who attended the camp last week, though average attendance was about 30 to 35 players per day, according to Lott.
Some of that participation fluctuation had a lot to do with personal conflicts last week and that doesn’t account for all of the players who could come out in the fall (especially in regards to freshmen), but Lott said he was pleased with attendance because the players who were there were learning.
That’s one of the main benefits of a team camp in Lott’s eyes because the pace in the summer allows for players to get a better grip on the Panther playbook, the styles and schemes the team will rely on over the course of the fall season.
For the upperclassmen, the camp is really a refresher course for them and a chance to re-familiarize themselves with the plays, while it is a chance for the younger players to get a jump start on building a base of understanding and making some progress.
“Hopefully we see the light bulb start to switch on and them knowing what they’re doing,” Lott said.
Now, with Lott entering his second year as head coach at RVHS, he is expecting all of his players to be a little bit ahead of the curve in that regard entering the season. Gaining some expertise regarding the coach’s concepts, he said he believes taking the next step should come easier for the Panthers in the fall.
“I think things went a little easier in camp this year and I’m suspecting the first couple weeks, as far as learning and introducing things, to be a little easier just because we’re kind of picking up where we left off,” Lott said.
With the evolution of summer sports and what high school athletes can get involved in, kids can get pulled in several different directions in the “offseason.”
Football might not lend itself to that like basketball or volleyball, per say, but Lott said his players won’t be lacking for options to prep themselves for the fall season over the summer months.
“You can’t do everything that some of the other sports do with football and that’s all right,” Lott said. “I think football’s also a sport where I don’t think you want to do some of the stuff where you play like three basketball games a night or something like that. You just can’t do that.”
“We’re able to hit the mindset of pushing yourself and being mentally tough and doing that everyday in weights. That helps correlate directly to football,” Lott added.
As for camp, outside of the driving force of learning new stuff and getting a handle on what has already been implemented, Lott noted he was focused on strengthening the team as a unit over the past week.
In that regard, he said he is focused on making sure his players stay task-oriented and do their jobs to produce the best possible results on the field.
“Our focal point is making sure everybody is an expert in their role and knows exactly what they have to do to help their team each and every play, each and every time they line up,” Lott said.
With a number of experienced upperclassmen returning, Lott said he believes the team will have some hunger and a drive to be successful. Adding in the gains some players made in the weight room over the course of last year, the Panthers could have a strong core pushing the team forward this season.
Nothing is set in stone yet, as the camp is just a teaser for the full fall season to come, but it worked for the coach who came away pleased with what he saw out of his players the first time back in action.
“It’s just exciting to get back out there. The kids have really done, for the circumstances, pretty good,” Lott said. “The younger kids came along. The older kids have led and helped run the camp, so I think it’s been a good week and it’s starting the summer off right with attendance in the weight room and attendance at camp.”