BY KRISTI REED
The Mill Creek Hawks hit the field Friday for the first day of fall practices.
Mill Creek head coach Shannon Jarvis said Friday’s practice was the best practice the team has ever had to start the season.
“Our first practice was excellent. The heat got us a little towards the end and we’re going to work on that,” he said. “When I say the heat got us, it got us mentally not physically. With our summer workouts, our team is conditioned.”
After two and a half months of strength and conditioning workouts, the Mill Creek players are unquestionably in great condition. Over the summer, the 240 players in the Mill Creek program have met three times a week for weight training and cardiovascular exercises. Of those players, 121 were named “Hawks of Steel” after missing three or fewer workouts during summer vacation.
Jarvis said the player’s dedication to the program means this year’s team is in excellent shape heading into the fall.
“We’ve never gone into a season with a team in such good shape,” he said.
Jarvis said summer conditioning is a must to compete in tough region 7-AAAAA.
“If we don’t, we will not be successful,” he said. “If you’re not ready to play, you’ll get embarrassed. In our region, if we don’t have our kids in condition and ready to play, they don’t have a chance. It’s very good football (in this region). They’re doing it, we’re doing it. Certain things we don’t have control of, but I guarantee you we should be in every ball game.”
Jarvis said he was particularly pleased with how much his players have retained from spring practices.
“We started out strong,” he said. “By far, the best practice we’ve ever started the season with as far as scheme and kids knowing what to do. We’re in no huddle offense, running our whole offense. It’s been very good.”
While the coaching staff was pleased with the first day, Jarvis said he and the other coaches have to keep pushing the players.
“Here’s the bar, so where are they ready to go? We’ll know a lot more in the next few days,” he said.
This week, the Hawks go to full pads. With only a week before school starts, Jarvis and his staff have a lot of work to do and only a short time to do it before available practice time gets reduced to just a few hours each day after school.
“Once you go to full pads, that changes everything,” Jarvis said. “Right now, everything is a little high because of the shoulder pads and just shorts. (This week), you have to get your linemen’s shoulder level down. You’ve got to get everybody low, you’re tackling has got to be solid. The focus will be on getting the fundamentals in full pads. Honestly, we’ll pull back on scheme to make sure we get the fundamentals right.”
Jarvis said many of the openings in the starting lineup this year have been filled.
“We’ve got some positions we feel really good about right now,” he said. “We’re still short in the secondary. We feel really good at receiver, running back. Really in the defensive backfield, we’ve got some question marks we’re trying to get addressed. Other than that, we feel pretty good about our ones and twos. We do roll kids and we feel like we’ve identified our one and twos. We’re really far along right now and a lot of that goes back to this summer.”
After this week, Jarvis said he expects to have the starting lineup finalized in terms of how the team will approach the first scrimmage and the first game.
“That can change a lot before the end of the season,” he added.
The Hawks conclude two-a-days this week. Next Friday, Mill Creek will have its first inter-squad scrimmage of the season. The following Friday, the Hawks travel to Parkview for a pre-season scrimmage game.
The first game of the season will be August 29 at home against Dacula.
Though the Hawks are off to a good start in fall practices, Jarvis is looking to gain momentum heading into the 2008 season.
“I’m very pleased, but that is not to say we can’t go backwards in a hurry,” he said. “That’s our job as coaches to keep pushing them, but great start and a lot of enthusiasm. We’re very pleased with the first day.”