Coaches visit Cony­ers Rotary

The Covington News - - Around the Region -

CONY­ERS — Rock­dale County’s three high school football coaches spoke about their up­com­ing sea­son at the Rotary Club of Cony­ers on Thurs­day.

Third-year Salem Semi­noles Coach John Starr, who grew up in Alabama and grad­u­ated from West Ge­or­gia Col­lege, talked about in­still­ing a work ethic in his play­ers to en­cour­age them to be­come pro­duc­tive cit­i­zens and then delved in to his team’s phys­i­cal pre­pared­ness.

“Go­ing back to spring prac­tice, our guys were re­ally start­ing to ‘buy-in,’ start­ing to un­der­stand the work ethic, start­ing to put the time in the weight room and start­ing to un­der­stand how hard you have to work aca­dem­i­cally,” Coach Starr said. “We count it as a suc­cess when our young men go be­yond high school and are able to be pro­duc­tive cit­i­zens. That’s not to say we aren’t try­ing to win football games...but we are real ex­cited about what we have com­ing back this year.”

“We’ve got some pretty good sized kids — we have a fresh­man de­fen­sive line­man who is a good stu­dent and a good football player and about 6’2”, 250 pounds,” Starr said. “He is go­ing to be one you are go­ing to hear a lot about. We feel like we fi­nally got this thing on the right track. Again, we may not win the ball games that many would like, but we are go­ing to pro­duce some great kids.”

First year Rock­dale High School Bull­dogs Coach Ven­son Elder, who hails from DeKalb County and played football at the Univer­sity of Alabama, said he jumped into an in­tense round of con­di­tion­ing, run­ning, weight lift­ing and study­ing as soon as he ar­rived in the sum­mer.

“When the kids see some­thing that works, they are go­ing to get on your team then,” Coach Elder said about his play­ers, who he said have been very ea­ger to learn. “You teach them some­thing and make them want more. You don’t throw all of it at them at the same time... you give them a piece here and a piece there.”

“We have se­niors com­ing back and I told them, ‘Guys, you have got to earn ev­ery­thing you get,’ just be­cause you are a se­nior doesn’t mean you are go­ing to start,” he said. “If you want to start, you have to have lead­er­ship on the field and off the field.” Coach Elder said this year’s sched­ule “gives our kids the op­por­tu­nity to grow and they can com­pete against these schools and on any given day any­one can be beat.”

Her­itage Pa­tri­ots Coach Chad Fra­zier grew up in Macon and grad­u­ated from Val­dosta State Univer­sity. He is en­ter­ing his sixth sea­son at Her­itage on the tail of two re­mark­able years.

“Last year, we had the best sea­son in school his­tory,” Coach Fra­zier said. “We won 10 games and made the playoffs for the first time ever in back-to-back years.”

“I’m real ex­cited about our se­nior class, prob­a­bly the most ma­ture group of kids that we have had since I’ve been at Her­itage,” he said. “Ev­ery year we talk about keep­ing the dis­trac­tion out of our locker room and off our field. I feel like if we can keep those out of the way, we have a chance to be com­pet­i­tive and be suc­cess­ful. We have been very for­tu­nate...the ma­jor­ity of our se­nior class has been with us since ninth grade and there is a great deal of lead­er­ship there and a great work ethic. They set an ex­am­ple for our younger kids on what is right and what to do and what is expected of them.”

With five re­turn­ing starters on of­fense and four on de­fense, Coach Fra­zier ad­mit­ted there are some holes to fill, but he is op­ti­mistic the younger play­ers will step in.

“We have a very dif­fi­cult sched­ule, but it’s one that we like,” Coach Fra­zier said. “We are go­ing to go out ev­ery week and play as tough as we can and be very com­pet­i­tive, learn from our mis­takes and get bet­ter each week. I’m look­ing for­ward to it. We have a great bunch of kids and par­ents sur­round­ing us and a lot of re­sources we are try­ing to tap to continue to build our pro­gram.”

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