Loudon football getting ready

Loudon High School sophomore Jackson Collins prepares to catch a pass Monday during practice.

Loudon High School head football coach Jeff Harig believes the dead period provided a much-needed break, but now he’s turning his attention to what will be a critical month of development and progression.

“I thought amongst our top guys that there was a lot of carry-over from where we left off,” Harig said. “Now our focus is to try to bring some of our third- and fourth-group guys along because before the break, our focus was our first and second group. I thought their willingness to learn and be coached was really good, so we’ll bring them along.”

Players were excited to return to the practice field and did not see much of a drop-off.

“We’ve been going up against strong competition and went down to McMinn County last month and put like seven touchdowns on them in seven drives,” Kaden Dockins, LHS senior receiver, said. “It was a pretty good first day of practice back. Nobody looked like they were dead or anything and looked like they were in shape and ready to go and focused.”

The depth chart took a hit after graduating nearly 20 seniors last year, but the coaching staff has worked throughout the offseason to rebuild the roster.

“I think we’ve looked pretty good this summer, but the one thing we do have is we have some competitive depth,” Harig said. “We feel pretty good about our first two groups and their ability to go out there and compete. At that point, conditioning doesn’t, hopefully, play a big role because we’re going to be playing a lot of guys.

“As for our offensive and defensive lines, it’s kind of tough to tell at this point,” he added. “The biggest thing we want to see is, ‘Are they going to the right spot?’ We’ve tried to be very selective in what we do with each to make sure there can be some retention there. They’re going to the right spot, but it’s just a matter of consistently getting all of those guys here. We’ve had a little bit of a problem with one or two being out at the same time, and then you have to plug a different guy in a different position.”

While the summer is primarily intended for teams to build strength, get faster and learn the playbook, creating team chemistry is also important.

“I would say our biggest focus this month is just focusing on us as a team and getting to know each other,” Dockins said. “We need to help each other as a family and have each other’s backs. At this point, I don’t know what the team chemistry is because I’ve got to see more effort out of some guys and see how they’re doing.”

The Redskins will compete in 7-on-7 camps at 6 p.m. Thursday and 6 p.m. July 22 at Walker Valley High School.

“For the next two weeks, it’s going to be about going to the right spot,” Harig said. “Come July 26, we’re going to have to be going to the right spot and learn to be physical. That’s where you kind of start separating guys that are very knowledgeable about where to go, but they might not be as quite as tough as you might’ve hoped. At that point, some guys will really get separated but it’s going to be a very short time. Within five days of being in pads, we’re going to be playing a scrimmage over at Meigs County. There’s not a lot of time to find that physicality, but we’ll have to do the best we can.”