Holtville's Devon Goodwin plays tug-of-war against an opponent during Huntingdon's 2012 skills camp. The AHSAA has reduced the number of play dates/camp days from 7 to 4 for the 2013 season.
Holtville's Devon Goodwin plays tug-of-war against an opponent during Huntingdon's 2012 skills camp. The AHSAA has reduced the number of play dates/camp days from 7 to 4 for the 2013 season.

AHSAA cuts summer play dates to four

Published 9:00am Thursday, May 23, 2013

Football coaches are going to have to be more selective this summer after the Alabama High School Athletic Association reduced the number of playdates from seven to four.

“With four dates, you really have to pick and choose what you’re doing and make sure you’re maximizing those days,” said Holtville’s Hunter Adams. “It really cuts down on the number of live plays your team has seen going into the fall camp.”

Last season, the Bulldogs went to camps at Auburn, Huntingdon and UAB and then used area high schools to fill the remaining the days.

According to Ron Ingram, the AHSAA’s Director of Communications: “It was the wishes of the member schools to cut down on the number of play dates because student athletes playing multiple sports were not getting enough time off in the summer.”

Which makes sense, considering football players in this area double as baseball players and wrestlers and basketball players.

“We didn’t use the seven we had last year,” said Mike Battles Jr., second year coach of the Tallassee Tigers. “It lets the kids have a little more summer than they normally have.”

Battles said that of the 67 players he has on his roster  about 80 percent of them play other sports during the summer months.

“I want them coming out and playing everything we have to offer,” he said. “The more they are involved, the less chance they have of getting in trouble.”

As of now, the Tigers have a home-and-home agreement with Handley.

“We have to do that,” Battles said of playing his father, Mike Battles Sr. at Handley. “That way he gets to see the grand kids.”

And Tallassee will play Wetumpka.

“There’s a fine line between taking up the young men in your program’s entire summer and building toward the fall,” said Tim Perry, coach of the Indians. “I think there’s a balance. Maybe cut the number to five or six. I think the young men enjoy a lot of the competition.”

Last summer, the Indians hosted St. Jude and Sidney Lanier in a weekly passing camp.

This summer, Perry plans to have combine style days along with the passing to help better shape his team and those visiting.

“You have to pick and choose your competition,” said Perry, echoing Adams and Battles. “You have to use those days to make sure your young men are getting the most benefit and you’re getting as many players as you can involved. We are looking at a 7-on-7 tournament or two and a lineman camp. That way everyone can get some work in.”

Appearances at camps have also become key in the recruiting process as individual athletes are able to attend camps during the summer that teams, as a whole, might pass on due to the reduction in days.

“You don’t get those kids the exposure,” said Notasulga coach James Lucas. “At a 1A school you have to send the kids out to get exposure. In this area, with some people’s financial situations, it’s hard not to go as a team. We are just going to have lift weights this summer and practice against ourselves more.”

Lucas, whose son will be a Bulldog at Alabama A&M this fall, had planned to take his Blue Devils to a two-day camp hosted by LaFayette High.

“We are going to have to send the guys there individually,” said Lucas. “I hate (they reduced the number). Last year, we went to Auburn twice, Troy and then played 7-on-7’s the rest of the time.”

Reducing the number also changes the pace some coaches have set during the summer as a progression from June (team skills camps) to July (passing and individual skill work) to August (full-fledged practice).

“Competing against yourself can get mundane through the long grind of the summer,” said Adams. “But, we as coaches need to take things upon ourselves to find ways to liven that up and generate some new excitement during that time.”

Last summer, Adams the Bulldogs attended team camps at Auburn, Huntingdon and UAB.

“It does save you a little money in travel expenses,” said Adams.

With spring games having been played last week, teams now are in a holding pattern until the first part of June when they return to the weight room.

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