No hint of fall, just the first signs of start of football
By Marcus Fitzsimmons | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
There’s no pads, no rosters and no hint of fall in the warm air.
But it was undeniably the first sign of football season Saturday as Maryville College hosted 7-on-7 Perimeter Passing Day for the sixth time.
The crowd was bigger and even densely packed in the shady spots as the whistles and barks of coaches filled the air around campus with 32 teams working their passing game and secondary.
Maryville assistant Nick White and Alcoa assistant Brian Gossett organized the first event in 2007 and brought it to MC in 2008 with the proceeds given in memory of former Scots assistant coach Cody Bowers, who played with both at Maryville College. Current and former Maryville College football players and other MC alumni serve as volunteers for the event.
This was the second Passing Day for Scots head coach Mike Rader and his undeniable energy and organizational skills left their finger prints on subtle and welcome changes.
Dividing the day into a morning and afternoon session made it more attractive for many prep teams and created more spots for more teams to take part. It also shortened the day for the teams, who could wear down in a full day of July sun.
Rader wasn’t hard to spot Saturday. Just listening for the growl of the four-seater golf cart and there was the MC head coach dropping off this item and picking up that while answering questions on the radio and directing his staff and players to put out the little fires that flare up when keeping all the chaos organized.
• The next evolution of workout gear was easy to spot Saturday. Apparel companies have caught up to the fact that football’s heart beats in the southeast, where temperatures and humidity make for conditions beyond a t-shirt and shorts. The latest high tech hot weather practice apparel was apparent. Maryville and Alcoa both sported matching tops and shorts but it was Loudon’s red camouflage shorts that caught everyone’s eye.
Though is it still technically camouflage when it’s designed to stand out that much?
• It was good to see Malik Love and Peyton Wall back on the field for Alcoa. The pair of Tornado playmakers missed the spring with injuries. While it gave the team chance to build its depth at key spots, it was a welcome sign to see them back on the field.
• At some point Maryville High is going to cash in on the potential clinic the coaching staff can offer. Many colleges already do it but watching George Quarles teach his quarterbacks is a demonstration within itself. You can’t actually see the lights coming on as he pours knowledge in but there’s no doubt the success of the Rebel passing game on Friday night starts with the patient tutelage of “What were you reading there? What did you see? Is that the kind of throw for that situation?” that’s dispensed in these drills.
• If anyone was counting, it was a good sign to see 24 Mountaineers out in the afternoon session. That’s almost as many players as the Heritage varsity had game available last season. Coach Tim hammontree’s ethic was clearly visible as the Mountaineers went through a half hour warm up and stretch session while most everyone else in the second session was finding shade to sit and watch the morning session end.
• Nick Sexton was throwing like the true vet that he is Saturday but the timing with a while new crop of Seymour receivers was impressive. The Eagles graduated their top three wide outs but it was hard to spot much drop off in the early passing work at MC. Seymour was one of two squads opting for double duty — playing both morning and afternoon — but had a lot of young players to get on the field for work.
• Shout out to the local businesses that got behind the Passing Day this year.
The businesses making donations included: Chick-Fil-A Alcoa, Chick-Fil-A Foothills Mall, Mr. Gatti’s, Zaxby’s Maryville, Wal-Mart, Dunkin’ Donuts, Firehouse Subs, Food City, Frito Lay, Lenny’s Subs, Bella Roma, Target, Hooter’s, Hardees, Buffalo Wild Wings, Snappy Tomato Pizza, Great American Cookie Company, United Grocery Outlet (Alcoa).
If there is way to the heart of a football coach — and yes, they have them no matter what conditioning drills they order up — its through their stomach, so two birds with one donation to support the event and get the food in front of the guy who decides where the team busses might stop for dinner.
Marcus Fitzsimmons is sports editor at The Daily Times, who enjoys reading comments posted to this column at http://thedailytimes.com