Spring football has been all about getting physical at Wewahitchka Jr./Sr. High School.
With Coach Bobby Johns taking the reins of the program after the departure of Loren Tillman after three seasons, spring has focused on fundamentals, and in football that means imposing will.
“Ninety-five percent of what we have been doing is getting more physical,” Johns said. “Almost completely, the focus has been on getting more physical.
“If we don’t practice physical, we will never be physical.
While modern trends would indicate an emphasis on seven-on-seven would trend to the aerial game, for Johns seven-on-seven means the seven players typically found in the trenches, determining how the line of scrimmage flips.
“For me seven-on-seven is inside runs, your run offense against the run defense,” Johns said.
Johns labeled himself an “old-fashioned” proponent of the triple option, Wing T offense.
It is a power running attack dependent on snapshot reading of the defense by the quarterback as the play unfolds.
The Gators, 5-5 last season, return solid depth and talent at the offensive skill positions, but Wewahitchka will undergo wholesale changes up front with the graduation of most of the rotation.
All five starters on the depth chart, three juniors and two sophomores, played junior varsity last season.
“Obviously it would be great to have some experience on the line,” Johns said. “We have good skilled position players returning, good depth at the skill positions.
“We have our own system, but we will adapt to what the kids offer on on offense.”
On defensive, Johns is about adapting the kids to a system which has served him well the past 15 yeares in coaching.
The base defense will be a 4-3 and Johns said he will stick with that scheme, possibly going to a 4-2-5 in facing spread offenses.
But that is the only concession on scheme.
“We commit more kids to the line of scrimmage, that is what I do,” Johns said.
The Gators will not, as most teams do, wrap-up spring football with a jamboree.
One was originally scheduled against Franklin County, but due to the number of kids at that school committed to track and baseball, the school asked to cancel the game.
Which was perfectly fine with Johns.
“I actually don’t like playing a spring game unless I have an experienced team,” Johns said, adding the game is a “double-edged sword.”
Come out and play really well in that game, Johns said, maybe a false sense of confidence arrives and with it less commitment to summer conditioning.
Come out and play poorly, maybe that negative energy bleeds into summer and the fall regular season.
In addition, there is the reality of numbers.
With just two-dozen or so players out, it has been impossible to conduct scrimmages let alone play another team.
Johns said he will video intra-squad scrimmages, with middle-schoolers buttressing numbers, over the final few days of practice and break those down for summer and fall lessons.
Practice will likely end Tuesday, after 17 days, to allow attendance to the Class 1A softball semifinals where Wewahitchka will face Chiefland.
The spring has been a ball for Johns.
“I have had a blast coaching these kids,” Johns said. “They’ve worked very hard. What what we may lack in ability or numbers we are making up in effort.
“I just want them to come out and be better every day. We are moving in the right direction. We’ve had a really good spring.”