For the third consecutive summer, Wetumpka made some noise during a trip to UAB for the final 7-on-7 camp of the offseason. The Indians have not been happy with their results at camps for most of the summer but that changed when they ran through pool play with an undefeated record before falling to Oxford in overtime in the championship at UAB.
“I think it put additional excitement into the players and the into the coaches,” Wetumpka coach Tim Perry said. “It showed the result of the hard work and improvement the guys have made and that’s always exciting to see those improvements. That’s what you want getting ready to spring board into the season.”
Wetumpka has been busy with 7-on-7 camps all summer, including hosting a league that wrapped up with its third installment last Monday. While earning good results builds the excitement around the team, Perry knows it is about seeing improvement rather than seeing results during the summer.
Fortunately for the Indians, improvements could be seen throughout the summer and they got to show them off before transitioning into fall practice. Wetumpka started the summer with a 7-on-7 camp in Tuscaloosa but did not meet expectations it set for itself. Perry said he saw a whole new team during last week’s trip to UAB.
“I’m very proud of the players and the coaches from where we were to where we are now,” Perry said. “It’s obvious the improvement we have made, not just individually but together as a team. (I’m) proud of the effort and energy the whole team has made over the summer.”
Perry said the team has collectively accomplished the goals it set at the beginning of the summer, including seeing everyone improve on a personal level. The summer camps provided extra competition as a measuring stick to see the continuous improvement over the last two months.
The defense especially needed to get better during the summer, specifically with a young secondary and linebacking core but Perry said those players rose to the challenge. He admitted they still have a long way to go but they are heading in the right direction to prepare for the season opener.
“They’re becoming a lot more comfortable with their positions and in our scheme,” Perry said. “I know it’s just 7-on-7 but it is a way to evaluate those improvements. You can still develop those skills in a competitive environment.”
The biggest reason for the team’s growth this offseason has been building team chemistry, according to Perry. The coaches want to see players lead players as much as possible and they have started to see that more during the summer.
“We have definitely grown closer as a team and that’s a big part of the improvement,” Perry said. “That’s one of the things you want to happen as a coaching staff during the summer. These guys have to develop a bond and a closeness to strengthen the team.”
Wetumpka will travel to Fairhope for its season opener in less than four weeks and Perry wants his team ready as soon as possible. Despite the lack of 11-on-11 competition drills this summer, Perry expects his team to be in game shape as soon as the fall period begins.
“We want to start out that way in the first practice,” Perry said. “We elected to play in that week zero so there needs to be a sense of urgency from the coaching staff and the players to be ready for that first game. We want to use all the work from the summer so we don’t start over in the fall but we build off of that.”