Raiders get pointers at gridiron camp

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By The Staff

TB Correspondent

The 2009 Trimble County Raiders football team got to strap up their pads and pull on their uniforms for some sparring during training camp at the high school last week.

It was the first time the uniforms had seen light since last year’s team lost a playoff game against the No. 1 ranked Beechwood High School on Nov. 14. Beechwood eventually won the state championship.

But all that’s in the past, and this year’s team was eager to return to the field. They showed toughness and had a major eye-opener during the four-day camp.

Workouts started at 5:30 p.m. Monday, though they couldn’t fully dress,  according to KHSAA rules, until the next day.

So, this year, as the clock struck midnight and ushered in Tuesday, the players suited up in full gear and went to work with their new head coach, Chris Collins.

Collins didn’t waste much time getting onto the field. Though tired, the boys soon got fired up the more they hit – and got pumped up for the upcoming season.

“I’m interested in how the boys do and how they respond to all the changes, once the games have started,” Collins said.

“We have seen some improvement these past few days, and we only look to get better,” assistant coach Mike Isley said. “We just got to stay focused. The boys are doing a good job of being focused.”

After the midnight practice, which lasted two hours, and a little sleep, the boys were back up at 7 a.m. for a team meeting. They watched film from their previous practice, then went to the chalkboard for some “chalk talk.”

Then the guys were loaded up on the bus for a little treat – a dip at a swimming pool near Louisville.

“Awesome” was the common description from team members afterward.

“We are a fairly young team so, this year can be a challenge,” said assistant coach Shawn Blanton. “But I think if we keep working hard, we are going to be OK.”

He agreed that the coaches have seen “some major improvement from quite a few players. We can really tell who really wants to play and make plays for us out there on the field.”

About 5 p.m. Tuesday, the team returned to the field for practice until about 8:30.

The coaches added their final touches to the offense, defense and special teams before they divided the team up evenly for a scrimmage on Wednesday.

It was a chance for the coaches to see how the team would look in game situations. They also split the guys up for position battles.

That morning, the boys got their armor on and prepared for battle against one another. The blue/white scrimmage displayed good defense from both sides, but not much offense.

Special teams were fairly even, but many mistakes were made. But, the Raiders still have just enough time to get ready for the Atherton Rebels – Collins’ former team and their first matchup of the season.

“We just wanted to get a good look at the boys,” Collins said. “They have been working hard, and for the most part I think that we are going to be pretty good. With a few touch-ups here and there, I think we are going to be better than what most people think.”