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Co-Lin gets in shape

WESSON – Inspirational words scrawled onthe chalk board inside Copiah-Lincoln Community College’s weighttraining building: “Resume’ Build Yours.”

“Hard Work Feels Good.”

    Co-Lin strength  andoffensive line coach Drew O’Daniel is dedicated to improving themental and physical capabilities of Co-Lin’s football players. Hisstrict regimen guides the team during the summer workouts thatfeature intense weightlifting and exhausting runs in the oppressiveheat.

    Sophomore running back Joel Davis of Natchez is one of the veteransreturning from last year’s Co-Lin squad that won the South Divisionand finished runner-up to Gulf Coast in the state championshipgame. He realizes the benefits of a demanding offseasonconditioning program.

    “It’s tough but we are getting better,” said Davis. “I have to setan example for the new people. I tell ’em to work hard and getbetter every day.”

    Davis had just completed a series of squats with around 250 poundson his shoulders. “I’m more concerned with technique than peakweight.”

    After the squats, each player performs a number of vertical leapsfrom the squatting position without weights. The muscles respond inpositive fashion.

    O’Daniel explained the approach. “When we perform the squat, wehave the attention of the muscles. We want them to be explosiveduring games. You can jerk your body without weights.

    “We focus on technique, injury prevention and performance,”O’Daniel added. “We want to train and make the body moredurable.”

    Football players must endure extreme physical stress during games,be it running, passing, blocking, catching or tackling. Theirability to recover from bumps and bruises is critical to the team’ssuccess.

    Co-Lin head coach Glenn Davis complimented O’Daniel’s leadershipduring the offseason program. “Coach O.D. does a great job for us.You can really see the improvement in our players.

    “I tell them, ‘Now is the time to get in shape.’ When preseasonpractice starts you don’t want them wondering how they’re going tosurvive and make it through the day because of the heat andhumidity.”

    Incoming freshman Duwone Harris of Brookhaven smiled and took adeep breath when asked about the summer workouts. Harris, an optionstyle quarterback, was instrumental in leading the Ole BrookPanthers through three state playoff wins and a berth in the Class5A state title game last season.

    “Wow! The workout pain is something,” said Harris. “The running isserious. We runs 300s and 150s. I’ve gained about eight pounds,” ofmuscle.

    Harris is projected as either a wide receiver or cornerback whenpractice begins next month.

    Brookhaven Academy product Chandler Rogers is another incomingfreshman who is enduring the summer routine. Rogers was arecord-setting quarterback for the Cougars and he wants to do thesame at Co-Lin.

    “It’s great to be around a bunch of college athletes who areworking hard with the same goal in mind,” said Rogers. “It’s a lotmore intense and mentally challenging.

    “The amount of stuff we do in lifting and conditioning is achallenge,” Rogers noted. “You have to push yourself throughit.”

    There was no pause in the brisk, 60-minute workout. Coaches shoutedencouragement to the players as they moved from one station to thenext.

    After the skill position players had completed their workouts, theyheaded for the practice field. Their sprints would be in 98-degreeheat, complimented by high humidity.

    Offensive and defensive linemen entered the air -conditioned metalbuilding for their turn at weight training. It began with a seriesof stretches and agility drills.

    Sophomore offensive guard Fred Tillman is one of Co-Lin’s returningstarters. The Bogue Chitto product helped pave the way for Co-Lin’stitle run.

    “We are working hard to get back to the state championship,” saidTillman. “We lost a lot of players on offense and defense. I haveto lead the young guys.”

    Sam Ballard, a big freshman offensive lineman from Brookhaven,appeared dwarfed by some of  the participants. He smiled broadlywhen asked about the summer workouts.

    “I love it,” said Ballard. “This gets us in shape for the season.The coaches push us. They really get involved.”

    O’Daniel said he was impressed by the interior design of Co-Lin’sweight training facility. “Coach Davis did a great job with thedesign. This program has reaped tremendous dividends.”

    The latest results won’t be evident until the season gets underway. Co-Lin makes its 2011 debut Sept. 1, at Coahoma CommunityCollege in Clarksdale.