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Jones discusses OBU team camp and summer football

Jones discusses OBU team camp and summer football

By Richard White

In an interview last Monday morning in the football offices of the GMAC building, Greenwood head coach Rick Jones discussed his team’s recent participation in a team camp at Ouachita Baptist University (OBU) and other aspects of off-season football. All high school athletic teams in the state are currently observing the so-called “dead period” established by the Arkansas Activities Association, which will end on July 6th.

Greenwood_Bulldogs_Summer_CampOriginally scheduled to take part in a team camp in Bentonville against some of the biggest and best football schools in Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Missouri, the Bulldogs were unable to keep that date due to the unusual length of the school year. So on Wednesday, June 11th, 100 Bulldogs’ players, along with their coaches and support staff, bused their way to the OBU campus in Arkadelphia.

“There were probably 10 or 12 teams,” said Jones, including Lake Hamilton, Star City, Malvern, and Shiloh Christian, among others. “A lot of teams weren’t from this area, so we got a chance to look at some different guys. The format was basically 11-on-11. It was practice at “thud” tempo, where you’re just trying to work on your stuff and get better. We worked a lot against Shiloh and Lake Hamilton, and had a round with Malvern. The competition level wasn’t nearly as [high] had we gone up north, but the guys at OBU did a great job. They organized it well. It was good competition.”

“We got a lot of reps and no one got hurt, so that’s always a big plus,” said the GHS head coach. “We had great weather. It was one of the best days – 15 days in a row – we had the very best day possible. It was a relatively cool day. We had a bit of wind, so the fields dried out. Their grass fields were unbelievable. We got a lot of work and it was a good trip. It was a day of football, that’s for sure. We left about 8 o’clock [a.m.] and got back about 10:30 [p.m.]

“Everybody got to participate,” continued Jones. “We had a JV group and a varsity group, so we were going somewhere every single minute. And that’s really what you try to do. You try to get reps against somebody other than yourself. We got a lot of good work. It worked out fine. They had a field running indoors and four fields outside. They have some really nice practice facilities. They have really fixed that place up and the coaches were unbelievable. They treated us really well.”

Greenwood_Bulldogs_Summer

Asked about winning, Jones said, “We actually got beat in the 7-on-7 by Shiloh, so I don’t know that we won anything. To be as competitive as we are around here, that’s one thing I don’t choose to get competitive [about]. We went down there to practice, and competition is good for competition’s sake, not because we’re trying to win a prize.”

“We’re going to play a lot of people,” he continued. “We’re going to run our stuff, and we’re not going to change our offense [or defense] to be good at 7-on-7. Sometimes we’ll complete three balls and we’re happy, but we’re going off the field because we didn’t gain enough yards. We’re just trying to get better. We went 11-on-11 for about three hours in the early afternoon, then took a break and came back and did some 7-on-7 competitions.

Asked to describe the results of the camp for his team, Jones answered carefully. “It’s hard to tell. We’ve been watching film, but there were things I thought we did really well. It thought we threw and caught the ball well, but we didn’t necessarily run the ball that well. But part of that is the “thud” tempo, where you’re trying to stay up and the whistle blows really, really fast. It’s really “above-the-waist” football,” he explained. “It’s high-intensity contact, but hopefully you don’t have bodies flying around on the ground, because that’s where you get in trouble [with injuries].

About the running game, thought to be a strength of this year’s team, Jones said, “I’ve always thought you can work on the running game in smaller group settings that are actually safer. Instead of 11-on-11 to work on the run, we like to work 9-on-9 so we have a few less bodies out there to possibly fall on somebody’s leg.”

Defensively, the coach was more adamant. “It confirmed that we have a lot of work to do,” he said. “We gave up a lot of balls. I don’t think we played particularly well in the secondary. We’re going to have to get better back there. We’re going to have to be able to break on the ball and make sure we stay deeper than the deepest guy, and show the ability to tackle. It’s hard to evaluate tackling in a “thud” scrimmage, but we’ve got to have guys that can breakdown, wrap up, and get people down, and do what they’re supposed to do in pass defense. There were some times when [the opposition] was running wide open.”

Concerning the AAA’s dead period that began last Sunday, Jones said, “It’s a time when we’re not supposed to have any kind of organized practice. Our facilities are open all the time, but if [players] are working out, it has to be on their own. I didn’t really like it at first, but it’s a good rule.”

Also asked about the first annual Tyler Wilson quarterback camp from July 7-9, Jones said, “I don’t know that we are participating [as coaches], but we’re trying to make sure [it] happens. He’s got his own guys coaching. He’s got Jake Bequette and some other guys coming in to help,” he said. Bequette is a former Arkansas teammate of Wilson’s and currently plays defensive end for the New England Patriots. “[Tyler] has a really small window of time to do that, so he really has to be focused in on his time period,” added Jones. NFL training camps start in July as well.

Greenwood’s FASDOGS program also begins the same day (July 7th) as the Tyler Wilson camp, but the former will be held during the day while the latter will take place in the evening. “We’ll start the same day,” said the coach. Jones says he expects another great turnout for the annual summer program that in recent years has attracted more than 500 athletes of all ages from around the area, including some adults and parents. “We’re hoping to have a big crowd,” said the coach. “We had about 550 last year.”

The deadline for registration is this Friday, June 27th, to receive the price break of $10. All early applicants may register for $70, while those signing up after Friday must pay $80. To register, send or bring the completed application form, proof of physical exam, and payment to: Rick Jones, Greenwood High School, 440 East Gary Street, Greenwood, AR 72936. Checks should be made payable to the Greenwood Athletic Department. If students have a AAA-approved form documenting a physical dating from the previous school year, it is good for 12 months.

There will also be a quarterback training program at FASDOGS this year, but it is limited to the first 12 QBs who register from grades 7-12. Sessions will last from 8 to 9 a.m. on Monday, Tuesdays, and Thursdays during the four-week (16 days) program. Participants in the QB camp must provide their own football, must also keep up with their other FASDOGS required workouts, and must have prior approval from Coach Jones.

For more information regarding the FASDOGS program, see the brochure and registration form on the Dog Pound website at greenwooddogpound.com. The program will run Monday through Thursdays on the following dates: July 7-10, 14-17, 21-24, and 28-31. Registration forms are also available at the high school office and at the central administration office at 520 North Main Street.

“We’ll have [another] team camp here the first Wednesday of FASDOGS against [Fort Smith] Northside and Muldrow [OK], starting at 11 a.m., and then we’ll go to Northside the next week,” said Jones. “Then we’ll be back here for 7-on-7 and then back to Northside for 7-on-7. Those are from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Then we have Pittbull camp coming up in three weeks, so we’re going get a breath and go.”

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