Schuyler High School head football coach Aaron Thumman knows exactly what he wants his players to focus on each summer to make sure his squad is ready when the ball kicks off in the fall.
“There are two areas we have always really focused on in the offseason as long as I have been the head coach and that’s strength and conditioning and our football fundamentals,” Thumman said. “I know just about every coach would say these are always big areas of focus for their teams and it's not the big exciting answer, but they are so incredibly important and can make a huge difference when you get to your season.”
Much of what manifests itself on Friday nights under the lights is the result of hard work behind the scenes coming to fruition, he said.
“We’ve had a great summer so far in the weight room. We’re at the halfway point and we've seen some great improvements and strength gains already this summer,” Thumman said. “The players are working incredibly hard and are focused on continuing to push our program forward. It's awesome to see their hard work and to see them push and support each other each day.”
However, along with the old standbys are some new ideas and concepts Thumman and his coaching staff have infused this summer.
“New for us this offseason was a 7-on-7 tournament that we took part in. Central City offered a one-day, 7-on-7 tournament this year that we got the opportunity to be a part of,” he said. “We can't thank Central City enough for giving us the opportunity to come over and work to make ourselves better.”
According to Thumman, the event allowed his squad to focus on areas of the game which need improvement, he said.
“We knew we needed to work on our passing game this offseason. We want to run the ball first and foremost, but we need to be able to pass the ball affectively when we do decide to throw,” said Thumman. “This 7-on-7 tournament gave us that opportunity to work on that area of our offense. By the end of the day, we felt a lot better about our passing game. We need to continue to improve in this area, but we liked the steps we took at that tournament.”
On Monday through Wednesday, the team conducted a “Warriors Under-the-Lights Camp,” which is modeled after Big Red’s version in Lincoln.
“I must give credit to Marv Aldrich for the idea of this camp,” Thumman said. “He’s our groundskeeper and one of our custodians and brought the idea to me last year after the first Nebraska Friday Night Lights camp last summer and I loved it. The idea comes from and is very similar to Nebraska's Friday Night Lights camps. It's just something a little different we started doing last year. The players really enjoyed it and it brought a new energy to the camp and excited the players.”
But, aside from simply the work which gets put in, the night camp provides respite from the midday heat, as well as intangible benefits, he said.
“Of course, it gave our team an opportunity to be under the lights a little bit, which is what every high school football player lives for and it gave us an opportunity to work in some cooler temperatures,” Thumman said. “It's a really cool environment that our players really enjoy and the energy that our players and coaches bring is awesome.”
On Thursday, the Warriors will make the short road trip to Columbus High School for the Midland Jamboree Camp. It's another opportunity to provide his players with proper preparation for the upcoming campaign, he said.
“Like Central City, we can’t thank Coach (Midland University offensive coordinator Ryan) Williams enough for giving us the opportunity to come over to this camp, working with a great program like Midland's and take steps closer to what we know we can become,” said Thumman. “We’re very excited for our team to have the opportunity to learn from Midland's staff. Along with that, we are excited for the competition our team will get to take part in against some great teams. Anytime you get an opportunity to go out and compete against other teams, you give your team a chance to grow and take steps closer to want you want to become. We’re really excited about this camp and opportunity.”
After all the on-field action has concluded for the summer, it’s back inside for more strength conditioning, he said.
“After that last camp, we’ll focus and finish up the summer strong in the weight room,” Thumman said. “We know the stronger we are in the weight room -- both as a team and individuals -- the stronger we will ‘Row The Boat’ when we start practice.”
Scott Akanewich is the sports editor of the Schuyler Sun. Reach him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.