Devils searching for commitment

Published 10:50 am Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Blue Devils of Escambia County are looking for a bright side after losing all five games in the 7-on-7 tournament they participated in Gulf Shores on Wednesday.

The tournament, which was rescheduled from Tuesday to Wednesday, featured Escambia County along with Robertsdale, Baldwin County, Gulf Shores and Daphne.

Blue Devils head coach Mark Heaton said the high note of the tournament was how the Blue Devils competed against their opponents.

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“We lost all five of our games by a touchdown or less,” Heaton said. “We had opportunities to win, but didn’t execute the big plays that we needed to make.”

Reasons for the lack of execution are out there with some reasons popping out more than others.

Heaton said he told his players for them to have success they need to have a strong level of commitment.

“I told the kids that when they decide to commit to being in this weight room and out on the field every day is when we will get over that hump,” Heaton said. “I’m going to make sure they are accountable for being here like they are supposed to be. Only when they have that commitment will we see success.”

For Heaton, building his team’s mindset is a priority that he takes seriously.

The first-year Blue Devils coach wants his players to know that there commitment to the program is what determines whether they are able to become champions or not.

Heaton said the first step to being a champion is to be there for your team.

“The first step to becoming a champion is to show up,” Heaton said. “You can’t take any other steps until you show up.”

Not only does Heaton want his football program to become successful, but he wants the school they represent to reach a new level of success.

Heaton said being around new ECHS principal Zickeyous Byrd has shown him the school is headed in the right direction.

“Being around Mr. Byrd for a week, I can see he has this school on a path to greatness,” Heaton said. “We are also going to get this football team on a path for greatness. This coaching staff and this administration are all on the same page, and we are going to prepare this school for success.”

As summer workouts progress, the Blue Devils will participate in more 7-on-7 action with one tournament possibly being hosted at Herbert Barnes Stadium.

On July 19, ECHS will visit Millry to take on five teams in competition.

Heaton said he wants to give his players as many opportunities as possible to finish on a strong note to end the summer.

“We are going to play in more 7-on-7 games this summer to give the guys more chances to turn the corner,” Heaton said. “I want them to come out of these workouts in a few weeks with a productive summer and a certain level of success under their belts. This fall will be a direct result of how we finish July.”

Blue Devils head coach Mark Heaton is still looking for a strong amount of commitment from his players in order to have success. | Photo by Adam Prestridge