Heaton seeks improvement

Published 3:46 pm Monday, March 21, 2011

ECHS Blue Devil Domineque Hubert tests his max in the bench press on Monday afternoon at ECHS.|Photo by Chandler Myers

“Disappointment” was the word used most by Escambia County Blue Devils head football coach Mark Heaton when he spoke to his seventh period weightlifting class composed of approximately 20 of his football players.

The Blue Devils are in their ninth week of their first nine-week workout program and are testing their maxes this week to see how far each one of them has come since the program began in January.

Heaton’s disappointment is stemming from the fact that only around 15 percent of his team has made improvements in those nine weeks of work.

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“We have underachieved in our first nine weeks,” Heaton said. “The kids have been working, but there have been some obstacles we have been fighting including participation in other sports. They are still learning how to work through the extra activities they are in, while they try to improve in here as well.”

The Blue Devils started testing their maxes on Monday with the bench press, which is where Heaton first saw the underachievement.

The other maxes that the players will test this week include among other things, power clings and testing 40-yard dash times.

Before his seventh-period class began, Heaton sat his players down and told them what he had seen from his other classes.

During his speech to the team, he noted how important it was to build strength during this time of the year because it would help them in the long run.

He also noted the team’s loss to Bibb County.

“Guys I’ve only seen improvements from around 15 percent of our team so far,” Heaton said. “In the last class out of 22 players, only three were where they should be. This is important because the 35-13 butt whipping we took in November is the difference between improving and not improving.”

In speaking to the Blue Devils, Heaton let them know what it would take to get to where they need to be.

He laid out how the workout sessions need to go in order for improvement.

“I challenged our guys,” Heaton said. “I told them that when we come in next week that they need to set a standard, so they can move past where we have been.”

The emphasis on the nine-week sessions comes from seeing what happens from January to June.

“The two most crucial periods are from January to May,” Heaton said. “That’s when you want to see the most gain from guys in their lifts because they are constantly doing it day-after-day.”

Once the next session is finished in May, Heaton hopes to see his team meeting the goals he has set for them.

The head coach knows what should happen when the next max tests come around.

“There are a handful of guys who have made progress, but I want to see more from our team,” Heaton said. “I think there should be a 20-plus pound gain in a bench max. These kids know there will be changes and I expect them to make progress and take ownership in this program.

For Heaton, the important thing is to catch the problems now, so his team is able to fix them in their second nine-week session.

“My hope for this team is that we see a vast improvement in our next nine weeks of work,” Heaton said.