SOUTHERN PINES — For most kids, summer means sleeping in and relaxing, but for the St. Pauls football team, Tuesday morning came early as they found themselves working on their craft on the road.
The Bulldogs played against North Moore, Scotland and Pinecrest as they wrapped up their summer 7-on-7 schedule on the practice fields behind Pinecrest High School.
“We just want to increase and get better,” cornerback Trey Johnson said. “So we can come to the season and do a lot better than we did last year and get past the level that we did in the playoffs.”
Bettering themselves has been the main goal for the Bulldogs and head coach Trey Sasser this summer, as after the team graduated 16 seniors last year, they are looking for the youth to step up this year.
“We’re getting better,” Sasser said. “We’ve had guys that have been on the varsity but haven’t necessarily played, so they’re getting experience right now.”
Sasser says he has seen the growth in the players, and they have seen it as well.
“Our defense seems to still be good and getting better this year as we worked,” Johnson said. “These seven on sevens actually helped.”
“We are getting good,” running back Trey Thompson said. “7-on-7s are helping us get ready for the first game. We are coming along pretty good.”
For Sasser, the goal of the drills was to improve, and he feels the job was done well.
“We accomplished what we wanted,” he said. “We went against different people and I feel that we’ve learned what we’re trying to do and just working to get better.”
Even though this was the final 7-on-7 scheduled for the Bulldogs, there will still be plenty of work to prepare for the season. Sasser said the weekly routine will continue up until the start of practices.
“We’ll still lift,” Sasser said. “We’ll have our workout sessions and then we’ll have our skill development as far as football leading up to August 1st.”
The workouts outside of the 7-on-7 drills could be the most vital for the team because the battle for the trenches is where the coaches are wanting to focus.
“One of the biggest things we are wanting to make a stride in is our lines on either side of the football,” Sasser said. “Of course they’re not able to do that like the skill guys out here.”
Those linemen will be helping to carry an attack built around running the ball more than passing, and Sasser said they will be looking to their running backs to set the pace.
“Trey Johnson and Trey Thompson,” Sasser said. “Both of them are going to play running back and both need to help in the secondary.”
The team will also be looking to a quarterback who is relatively new to the starting job.
“We need Cody McKenna to play well,” Sasser said. “He was on the varsity last year. He didn’t get as much playing time as we would have liked but he has utilized these 7-on-7s to get better.”
For Sasser, getting better is a message he is looking to spread, and playing teams from out of St. Pauls league is helping with that.
“It’s just to improve our skills and get better,” Sasser said. “We get to compete against different people like Scottland and Pinecrest and show our guys different speed other than themselves.”