The Raider football team is trying to get the most it can out of the preseason before the preseason.
Madison County is currently in the middle of twice-a-week lifting sessions and twice-a-week passing league competitions — both which are voluntary. Preseason practice doesn’t start until Aug. 1.
“We’re rocking and rolling,” said Madison County head coach Randell Owens, who enters his fifth year on the job.
The Raiders have faced area schools Oglethorpe County, Franklin County, Jefferson, Athens Academy, Elbert County and Monroe Area in the seven-on-seven passing drills this summer. The pad-less, non-contact setup allows player to hone their skills in the passing game or defending the pass.
“We’ve held up pretty well,” Owens said. “Our kids are learning. Our puppies are growing up.”
The team makes its annual trip to West Georgia July 24-26 for team camp. It’s primarily a passing league, but offers a lineman camp, too.
Owens said any kind of competition with other schools helps him to gauge his team. Last year, the Raiders took on the likes of powerhouse Thomas County Central (which went on to go 13-1 in 2007) and eventual state quarterfinal team Westover at the West Georgia event.
“Everything you do gives you a little bit better feel,” Owens said. “We’ll get a chance to compete against some pretty good talent.”
Just 14 days remain before the start of preseason practice while 36 days remain before Madison County’s Aug. 22 scrimmage with Franklin County. That will be the closest thing the Raiders will have to popping pads with the Lions this year, since there was no room on this year’s schedule for a non-region game. Owens said that’s a shame, given the interest — and gate — that accompanies games against local teams.
“As an athletic director, I wish we were playing them (Franklin County) for real,” Owens said. “We make more money off that game than we do all three Rockdale County schools.”
Owens isn’t sure how closely the scrimmage next month will resemble an actual game. But no matter how much coaches regulate the rules, it won’t temper the intensity between the two familiar foes.
“No matter what we do as coaches, it’s going to be personal. With our kids, it will be personal,” Owens said. “Their kids are going to want a piece of us whether it’s a scrimmage or not.”
Football notes: Allen drawing interest from colleges
Raider tailback Al Allen has been hitting the field with a vengeance in the offseason with several colleges eying the senior prospect.
He’s received scholarship overtures from both Liberty College and Presbyterian, while other schools have shown interest.
In turn, Allen, who totaled 1,412 yards last year, has stepped up his intensity and team leadership during voluntary weightlifting sessions and passing league competition, Owens said.
“He’s been a little more focused,” the coach said.
As of July 1, college coaches were allowed to call potential recruits.
Owens said others have stepped up over the summer as well. Bracken Turner has been impressive at free safety and wide receiver, while Claude Johnson “has improved his status” for his dependability and consistency during passing league. The coach added that Jamal Cooper has been showing off his speed at wider receiver while Cody Esco has proven steady in pass coverage.