Panthers perspire in tough workouts

Published 5:00 am Monday, July 23, 2007

Players perspire and inhale large amounts of humid air as theytake turns running sprints on the King Field track. It’s 6:30Thursday morning. The heat and humidity become enemies of anyonewilling to exercise outside an air-conditioned building inmid-July.

Ole Brook offensive coordinator Jaymie Palmer stands next to thetrack watching the linemen and linebackers huff and puff. Hecradles Anniston, his sleepy-eyed 18-month-old daughter, in hisleft arm, holding the whistle in his right hand.

Palmer encourages and challenges the players as they runfull-speed in a 20-yard dash. “Don’t let up. Run hard.”

He provides a game-time example. “You just got beat for atouchdown. You’re out here jogging off the field and their band isplaying.

“We don’t want 7-5 (record) again. Finish strong.”

Senior Darion Smith, a big offensive lineman, is built more likea linebacker. Streaks of sweat meet at his chin as he shoutsencouragement to his teammates between sprints.

“Come on! Push it! Don’t let up!”

How does Smith feel about the workouts?

“We’ve got the best coaches,” answered Smith, breathing deeply.”All we have to do is our workouts. This is where you win thegames.”

Smith, a 3-year starter, believes the Panthers will make anotherstate playoff appearance in 2007. “We have high expectations. Ican’t wait to start the season.”

Linebacker Aaron Ayers steps outside Brook’s weightlifting roomThere is no air-conditioning, just a large fan pulling sweat-soakedair through the room.

“These workouts are good for us,” said Ayers. “They will help uswin.”

Asked about his favorite exercise, Ayers replied. “I like therunning. It gets me faster.”

He wears a gray Ole Brook Football T-shirt. On the back of theshirt large print proclaims “Eleven Strong. One Heartbeat.”

Senior quarterback Charles (Bobo) Rancifer is a 3-year starter.He realizes what is required to be successful.

“The workouts play a major role in our success,” said Rancifer,an All-Lincoln County Offensive MVP on The DAILY LEADER’s dreamteam. “The more you work, the better you become as a player.”

Simmie Yarborough, recognized as an All-State receiver,displayed his leaping ability by easily clearing the 4-footchain-link fence which borders the track. He and a large group of45 skill players were preparing to run the stadium steps.

“We are going strong,” said a smiling Yarborough. “We are ingood shape.”

Palmer watched Yarborough’s athletic prowess and issued awarning. He called the group together for a brief lecture.

“I’m 30 years old and I wish I could jump a fence like Simmie,”said Palmer. “But Simmie should be careful. He could have caughthis shoestrings on that fence and broken something. He would havebeen lost for his senior season.”

Pausing for a moment, Palmer said, “All of you need to becareful with what you do. It’s too close to the season to dosomething dumb and injure yourself.”

Jewaun Washington plays cornerback for the Panthers. Cornerbackis regarded as the toughest position on defense because it requiresstrength, superior speed and quickness.

Washington leaned on the stadium railing after doing a series ofclimbs. “I feel good about these workouts. They make my legsstronger.”

Looking ahead, Washington said, “Our team is going to be fasterthis year. We have a better chance of going farther in theplayoffs. We have a lot of people returning.”

Certainly, Washington and his teammates will be in greatphysical condition when the season arrives.