Sports

Hard work now produces titles later

SK junior Brian Kuznek cools off with a drink of water at summer football camp at the University of Puget Sound. - Jesse Beals/Staff Photo
SK junior Brian Kuznek cools off with a drink of water at summer football camp at the University of Puget Sound.
— image credit: Jesse Beals/Staff Photo

In the offseason, players always say the right words. They thought last year was hard work, but they didn’t know the true definition of drudgery.

Ellipticals. Hills. Treadmills — not to mention frequent forays into the weight room.

It becomes monotonous and tedious at times, but these workouts can have a great influence on the regular season. And now that summer camps are over and preseason practices just a few weeks away, it’s a time for leaders to come forward and continue the transition.

Coaches are limited in their monitoring abilities during this period. They can’t organize practices or demand that each player be in the weight room three times a week.

This is where the leaders need to step up and hold their teammates accountable.

If everyone is exercising together, the coaches don’t have to spend as much time in the preseason conditioning their athletes. That’s important because practice time is limited by the WIAA in the offseason.

A well-conditioned team allows athletes more time to assimilate strategies and coaches to focus on fundamentals.

Ideally, athletes are working on more than just conditioning. Even without contact, there’s plenty of work that can be done on the field. In football, the quarterback can work on route running with his wide receivers.

This again will enhance the transition process and allow the coaching staff to introduce the playbook at an accelerated pace.

This preparation makes a difference when the regular season rolls around.

In professional and college sports, athletes are drafted and recruited. They’re the chosen ones, and the talent level between teams is a lot closer because of it.

In high school, the disparity is much greater. A 6-foot, 200-pound offensive lineman might line up against a 6-5 defensive tackle who outweighs him by 100 pounds and has offers to play in the Pac-10.

Sometimes there’s no getting around superior talent and athleticism.

But in other cases, maybe the smaller offensive lineman is strong enough from offseason workouts and technically sound from preparation that he’s able to beat The Prototype.

South Kitsap has plenty of history with overachieving teams because of the dedication exhibited by some of its leaders.

After the 1993 season, the Wolves graduated 27 seniors — including University of Washington-bound offensive linemen Tony Coats and Benji Olson — and many thought the program’s opportunity to win a state championship had ended.

Some thought South’s streak of state playoff appearances, which ran from 1980 to 2002, also might be over.

Junior linebacker Mac Morrison later would become a national-level recruit who signed with Penn State, but there wasn’t much else besides him.

Future Mariners utility player Willie Bloomquist was the quarterback, but threw for just 500 yards. The Wolves’ top running back, Brad Ecklund, finished with 600 yards.

But the Wolves went 13-0 and won the only state championship in program history with a 15-10 victory against Walla Walla at the Kingdome.

How did they accomplish it? According to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer’s coverage of the championship game, the “Wolves’ no-star, undersized team stressed team unity all season and the theme held in the ebb-and-flow game that had a hero per play.”

After all, the champions crowned in November start eyeing the throne during the summer.

Chris Chancellor can be reached at (360) 876-4414 or by e-mail at sports@portorchardindependent.com.

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