Stanhope Elmore workouts

Mustangs receiver Conner Bradford (14) had a big day at Stanhope’s first 7-on-7 camp at Troy.

With the high school football season less than two months away, Stanhope Elmore is already building excitement around the program as the Mustangs expect to have a big season on the field. After three weeks of summer workouts, SEHS coach Brian Bradford said there has been little downtime and the players have answered the call.

“The attitude of the kids has been great,” Bradford said. “We’ve got a special group this year because of their work ethic and approach to everything. They’ve took ownership of this year so it’s been a very high-energy three weeks.”

The Mustangs attended a 7-on-7 camp at Troy during their second week of the summer and Bradford said it was clear they had gotten off to a slow start. However, Stanhope still got three victories at the event, and Bradford said he was impressed with how his players responded.

“We had to grow a little bit while we were there but that’s why we went,” Bradford said. “We wanted them to face a little adversity. We lost a couple early but we came together and started playing well there at the end.”

Prior to the camp, the Mustangs did not get a lot of work into their passing game plan which made things more difficult against some of the strong opponents at Troy. Bradford said the inexperience made things more difficult but the team had to adjust to the competition.

“It was a very good learning experience for us,” Bradford said. “When you do a 7-on-7 that early, we really didn’t have a lot in. All we had in on the passing game was the little bit we did in the spring game. We were basically installing offense while we were there.”

Jalen Walker continues to take reps as the first-team quarterback but that camp was his first competitive setting as the team’s starter. To make things more difficult, one of Stanhope’s top receivers Teddy Harris transferred to Autauga but Bradford said other players stepped up big on offense.

“Conner (Bradford) had a very big day,” Bradford said. “He was our leading receiver and led us in touchdowns. Dalton Smith and Tyler Wilson don’t have a lot of experience but they still had outstanding days too and they’re starting to get the feel of how to run passing routes.”

While the summer camps focus heavily on the passing game, coach Bradford said he believes his team’s offensive identity will not be through the air. The Mustangs have more 7-on-7 camps to develop skills in the passing game and in the secondary on defense but the focus continues to be on what they can do in the weight room and on their own field.

“We’re not really a big 7-on-7 team,” Bradford said. “We enjoy those because we want to see them compete but our goal isn’t to be this big elaborate passing team. We want to spend most of our time during the summer in the weight room and getting conditioned to get ready to play football.

“Right now, it’s all about getting in the right place, learning your reads and learning your technique. It’s not so much about finishing the block or defeating the block, it’s about getting in shape and learning what to do. Once the season gets here, we’ll fine tune the rest of it.”

Last week, Stanhope took a short break from the field and gave the players something new to be excited about. Bradford and the Mustangs introduced a new set of uniforms from Adidas which includes three new jerseys and three new pants for nine total unique combinations.

“They were all kinds of excited about that,” Bradford said. “They had no idea it was coming in so I grabbed a couple of seniors and told them to put those on and walk in the weight room. We got a lot of excitement right now. Any time you get new stuff like that, the kids love that.”

Caleb Turrentine is a sports writer for Tallapoosa Publishers Inc.