Weight gains

Published 4:53 pm Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Determination is the focus of the Escambia County Blue Devils football team, as they move deeper into their off-season workouts.

The Blue Devils’ workouts are led by head football coach Mark Heaton, who puts a focus on improving during a nine-week cycle.

During the cycle, the players do different lifts and conditioning drills each day of the week and work to improve their speed and strength during the nine weeks. At the end of each cycle, the players max out at each lift and drill to show how much they have improved during the cycle.

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After a couple of off weeks following the end of the 2011 season, the Blue Devils went to work on their first nine-week cycle, which ended in January.

With the first cycle completed, Heaton said he was pleased with the results, but knows more improvements will come during this cycle of workouts.

“Our first cycle went really well, but the gains were not as much as I hoped,” he said. “Our first cycle had Christmas break right in the middle of it, so with that couple of weeks off, it affected our workouts.”

Already in the midst of the new cycle, the Blue Devils are continuing to improve themselves in the workouts. One benfit of the workout has been an earlier beginning to the offseason.

The earlier start has helped the speed and strength gains become noticeable to Heaton.

“We just started our fourth week of the new cycle, and I can see that we are already a lot stronger and faster thanks to our speed and conditioning cycle,” he said. “I think this nine weeks, we wil see greater results.”

One area of interest to Heaton for the workouts was improving the big men up front on offense.

Last season, the offensive line for the Blue Devils was young and ravaged by injuries, which hurt the offensive production.

Through the workouts, Heaton said he has seen growth from his linemen.

“In terms of positions, our offensive line has made tremendous gains,” he said. “Last season, we were young, inexperienced and very weak up front, but I think that will be one of our strong points this season. They are doing great working out and taking part in group work. They are really pushing each other.”

Improvements have also been seen as a whole with specific lifts during the early cycles.

Lifting to improve muscle explosion has been one lift that jumped off the charts for the entire team, Heaton said.

“Our power clings are really jumping and improving,” he said. “That’s the lift where we want the most improvement because it shows we are improving power and explosion.”

With workouts going smoothly, the other thing of note is the work ethic involved.

The current group of Blue Devils has pleased Heaton with how much effort they are giving, he said.

“This group is a lot more determined in the weight room,” he said. “When you have a group of kids that enjoy working out and seeing the progress they made, it helps them improve on the field.”