New recruits must make the grade

  • Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Eileen Keithly/South Strand News Players practice their three point stance.

Photos

Georgetown Parks and Recreation youth football players crab crawled; “six inched'', sweated, and screamed their way through a July 21 practice at the Beck Recreation field.

Coach Dedrick Gilliard is a happy guy, but when it comes to football, and football conditioning he is a very serious man.

“Hold your feet six inches off that ground and scream,” Gilliard grumbled at his players on the ground, “pat your bellies hard and scream I tell you.”

Kenneth Simmons, a returning player to the team was chosen to lead the warm up drills. Speaking to the new recruits, Simmons warned, “I'm telling you guys, if you start talking during the drills, we are going to have to run, so just keep quiet and do whatever is asked of you.” He might have been leading the team drills, but that didn't keep Gilliard from using him as an example.

“Simmons, are you cheating me? What kind of a push up is that?”

Michael Johnson, a new recruit made the sad mistake of losing count of the six inches drill. “Well, I guess since you don't know what number we are on, we will just start this drill over.” Gilliard instructed his team.

“We were the County champs in our age division last year, and I am hoping to repeat that this year.” Gilliard explained that although the coaches have not “picked” their teams yet, he will have about 10 players returning from last year.

The coach with the fewest returning players is given first pick in the player draft. For now, all the players age 7-12 are conditioning together.

Donny Cummings, coach of one of the 11 and 12 year old teams, won't be as lucky as Gilliard when it comes to returning players this year.

Most all of his players have aged off of his team, and this will be a rebuilding year for him.

“ I lost a lot of my players to age this year, so I will be basically starting over…that's ok, I've done it before.” Cummings stated. Certainly he has the experience to build a team; Cummings has been coaching rec football for over 12 years.

The coaches had a little help at practice from the Georgetown High School football team. Martie Blakely, a rising 10th grader, and GHS receiver was there to give support to the younger players and assist the coaches.

“I just like kids, and coming out here and helping these boys learn how to play the game is just fun.” Blakely said.

Coach Gilliard had his players grimacing, but he also had them smiling. It wasn't difficult to see how he ended up with a championship team last season.

He had a unique “smiling toughness” about him that motivated the players too never give up; many of them asking for additional opportunities to correct their mistakes.

Head to head with only a football's separation, Gilliard quietly and individually coached his players during the pass route drill.

Seven-year-old Sidney Baker hung on every word that the coach told him in his one on one huddle.

“Ok, coach, I will do my best,” Baker assured Gilliard.

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