The Mill Creek football program continued preparations for the upcoming season as players attended two different camps this past week. On Thursday, 17 players traveled to Flowery Branch for a three-day high school player development camp hosted by the Atlanta Falcons. Saturday, 36 offensive linemen attended the fifth annual North Metro offensive line camp at St. Pius High School.
Mill Creek defensive coordinator and linebacker coach Tommy Scott said the camps are an important part of the Hawks’ football program.
“If you don’t go to these camps and you don’t put your kids in these competitive situations, when August rolls around, you’re really behind the eight ball,” he said. “The more we do, the further ahead we are.”
Scott said the camps allow him and the rest of the Mill Creek coaching staff to spend less time teaching and more time actually practicing skills before the start of the season.
Chad Garrison, director for the North Metro offensive line camp, described his camp as one day of intense training targeted at developing the skills of offensive linemen.
Originally started by Chris Warbington, the offensive line coach at Habersham Central, and Jay Wright, an offensive coach at North Oconee, the camp is entering its fourth year of specialized instruction for offensive linemen.
This year, for the first time, North Metro offered two camp dates due to growing interest in the program. Over 175 players participated in last week’s camps at North Oconee and St. Pius. Next year, the camp plans to offer four different dates at different locations throughout North Georgia.
“In the summer, there are all kinds of passing tournaments and passing leagues, but the linemen – the big hogs- they kind of get left out,” Garrison said.
Garrison said North Metro has received a great deal of interest from coaches and players alike.
This year, 38 Mill Creek players attended the camp.
Players were taught skills in run blocking and pass blocking. The camp included competitions and obstacle courses to add an element of fun to what was a long day of work in scorching heat.
The players worked in small groups where they received individual attention as they went through numerous repetitions in a short period of time.
“We feel like this is a great way for them to get some very good instruction from some of the top offensive line coaches in the area,” Garrison said.
Garrison said that even though the camp only lasts one day, players reap noticeable benefits.
“We feel like this is a good way to centralize offensive line instruction. They can get every block they are possibly going to use in their scheme,” he said.
Garrison said his camp is just one phase in his, and other coaches, overall program.
“Football has become a 12 month a year sport,” he said. “It’s not like the other sports. Most of high school teams are doing summer strength and conditioning and taking one or two days during the week where they are doing organized team activities.”
Garrison said his team will be attending another camp in a few weeks.
“We build on what we do here and take it over into the next organized team activity,” he said. “[The camp has] been very beneficial for us and I think all the coaches who come down here have found the same thing.”
The North Metro camp is just the first that Mill Creek’s offensive linemen will be attending this summer. In July, Mill Creek will host a three-day elite offensive line camp.
“Coach Lovelady does a great job with his three day camp,” Garrison said. “Coach Jarvis and Coach Lovelady and all those guys do a really good job up there at Mill Creek and they really have gotten that program off to a great start.”
While the linemen were hard at work at St. Pius, the quarterbacks, receivers, running backs, linebackers, cornerbacks and safeties were at West Hall High School for the 2008 Atlanta Falcons High School Player Development camp and a 7-on-7 passing tournament. A total of 408 players from 24 Georgia schools attended the three day event.
The passing tournament began Thursday afternoon. After a day of competition, the all-tournament team was selected. Mill Creek wide receiver Zach Landis and quarterback Ed Russ were two of only 12 players chosen for all-tournament honors.
“To be selected as one of the top twelve performers in that camp is quite an honor,” said Mill Creek defensive coordinator Tommy Scott. “They should be quite proud of that accomplishment.”
The all-tournament team will represent the Atlanta Falcons and the state of Georgia in the national 7-on-7 passing tournament to be held July 10-13 in New Orleans. The national tournament will be hosted by the New Orleans Saints at the Saints' training facility in Metairie, LA.
The Georgia team will be coached by Roger Holmes of Dublin High School. Holmes was selected as coach after the Fighting Irish won this year’s passing tournament.
The Hawks will continue their regular summer workouts through the month of June. At the end of July, the entire team will attend the FCA team football camp at the University of West Georgia. The three day camp will give Mill Creek the opportunity to compete against some of the top teams in the state.
After returning from camp, the Hawks will begin two-a -day workouts as they prepare for their August 29 season opener against arch-rival Dacula High School.