After not taking the field for five consecutive days, the Wetumpka football team returned from its holiday break by hosting its second 7-on-7 league of the summer Monday night. Despite having multiple teams back out, the Indians welcomed Jeff Davis and Trinity to Hohenberg Field as the teams ran through 20-minute matchups with both the starters and reserve squads.
“I thought we were going to come out a little slow,” Wetumpka quarterback Tyquan Rawls said. “We’ve been off since (last) Wednesday but we came out with great energy and great attitude. We got better today.”
The event marked the third time in the last two weeks Wetumpka got to compete against other teams in a 7-on-7 camp. Coach Tim Perry said he has seen major improvements during that time, especially considering the time off.
“They responded in a very positive way,” Perry said. “Offensively, the routes and our timing has been better. We don’t have as many drops and our quarterbacks are getting the ball out faster. They’re enjoying it and they’re competing hard.”
Rawls is only in his first full offseason as the team’s No. 1 quarterback but he knows the specific goals he wants to work on before the season kicks off. He said the 7-on-7 camps allow him to accomplish some of those goals.
“I work on my IQ of the game,” Rawls said. “And I work a lot with my receivers and building a better relationship with them. It’s letting us see all of the receivers and find someone to go to when it really matters.”
Wetumpka’s leading receiver in 2018 was E.J. Rogers but he will be playing at North Alabama this fall. Fortunately for the Indians, receiver may be their deepest position and Rawls will look to players like Jaleel Johnson, Malik Davis, Brandon Bowman and more to help carry the load through the air.
While the passing attack has not been the key to Wetumpka’s success over the last two seasons, Perry knows the running game cannot work without it. He said the 7-on-7 camps allow them to evaluate what works well if the time comes when the Indians need to run an empty backfield set.
“You try to do some of the similar things every year but if we don’t have the personnel to line up in heavy and run downhill, we have to have a Plan B,” Perry said. “So that might be spreading the field and trying to get those one-on-one matchups so that’s why we do these. We want to identify what we do well.”
After participating in four of its five 7-on-7 camps this summer, Wetumpka will turn its focus to working with the entire offense. Perry said the Indians will start working more on their run-pass option plays and screen passes to help start the transition into fall camp.
“We’ll start doing that this week,” Perry said. “We’ll do a little but more 11-on-11 during our workouts and start working on our running game more. We want to start getting into more of our complete offense.”
Defensively, the Indians know they have a lot of talent to replace and are using the summer to build more depth. While hosting the 7-on-7 leagues, Wetumpka has had the opportunity to rotate in two sets of linebackers and defensive back to get a look at multiple players in each position.
“We’re playing a lot of young guys on defense but they’re starting to get a better concept of what we’re doing,” Perry said. “It starts with having your eyes in the right spot so they’re starting to be more disciplined with reading the receivers. The consistency is the biggest thing we’re looking for and we’ve seen that get better since our last one.”
Wetumpka expects to have multiple players play on both sides of the ball again this season, including Rawls and Davis. Davis had an interception late in a matchup with Jeff Davis on Monday night but Perry said the coaching staff wants to focus on the younger guys during the non-tournament 7-on-7 camps.
“We know what Ty and Malik can do on defense,” Perry said. “We want to spend a lot of time this summer getting the young guys more reps. We know those guys understand our defense and coverages so they will be there when we need them. We want to try to build that depth and evaluate these young guys.”
With less than a month until the first official day of fall practice, Wetumpka wants to see more consistency across both sides of the ball on the practice field. The Indians will host one final 7-on-7 league July 22.
“We want to keep working on our physical conditioning and our strength,” Perry said. “We want to get more reps in what we’re doing so we can get everybody more comfortable in their position.”