Edgewood holds first week of practice under new coach

Caleb Turrentine / The Herald

Alex Johnson (8) and Tyler Abernathy (24) run backfield drills during Edgewood Academy’s opening week of practice.

As the first week of fall practice approaches, the Edgewood football team got to work at its first 7-on-7 camps of the summer last week. The Wildcats grabbed two wins at Crenshaw on Monday before wrapping up the week with three more wins at a camp hosted by Macon-East.

“I thought we progressed really well,” Edgewood coach Darryl Free said. “I think we competed really well against some really good teams considering we just got back on the field.”

While the full football activities will not begin until August 1, Edgewood has gotten plenty of work for its passing game on both sides of the ball. Free said the 7-on-7 camps have allowed the coaching staff to get a closer look at how the skill position players have developed since last season and where the newcomers can fit into the team.

“The camps are good to get timing issues down with the receivers and the route combinations,” Free said. “Plus, it allows us to start moving guys around and into different positions to see where everyone works best at.”

The Wildcats have gotten plenty of work in the passing game as returning starter Alex Johnson continues his duties as the team’s quarterback. Johnson started for the first time at the varsity level last season and Free said he has already seen plenty of growth in the past year.

“Alex is our leader on offense,” Free said. “He’s having a great summer so far and we’re looking for big things from him this year. I really think we could see him put up some big numbers.”

To assist Johnson in the passing attack, Free said he feels like the team’s depth at wide receiver can be a strength for the Wildcats in 2019. After relying heavily on the rushing attack last season, Edgewood may find itself with a pass-first mindset at times throughout the season.

“It’s going to depend a lot on the personnel we have available,” Free said. “I do think we’re a lot further along this year in the passing game than we were at this point last year. We are more prepared to evolve our offense if we need to.”

While the offense is typically the focus during 7-on-7 camps, Edgewood’s defense has gotten in a lot of work during the offseason. With players having to play on both sides of the ball, the Wildcats have been moving players around different positions and Free has seen a lot of new success on that side of the ball.

“Our defense really progressed from day one to day two,” Free said. “We are evolving our defense a little bit this season and watching them learn together has been fun. As long as they keep getting better, we’re going to be all right.”

Caleb Turrentine is a sports writer for Tallapoosa Publishers Inc.