Football hits the reset button


Jacob Jolly

Junior Diego Davis exhales as he lifts the bar during incline bench press. He had a strong season at defensive end and hopes to see even better results as a senior.

Jacob Jolly, Staff Writer

Imagine you just got done running sprints while pulling a 60-pound sled on your back for a total of 400 yards. Your legs burn and hurt to use. All you want to do is rest but you’re only halfway done with your workout. This is a typical offseason day for the football team.

Only two weeks after football season ended, the football program began lifting weights and doing workouts to prepare for next season. This year’s offseason routine is a program that was implemented last year named “Boot Camp.”

I love to see all of that improvement. To see the guys go out there as a team and compete against somebody else, that’s what I love the most – just everyone being there together as a team.

— head coach Clayton Maple

“It’s just a time to go back to the basics of everything,” coach Clayton Maple said. “Every little thing matters whether it’s football formations, plays, defenses, kickoff coverages, and punt coverages. These are all complex things, and in order to be successful at that you’ve got to first master all of the little things. We want to take it all the way back as if they’re playing football for the first time.”

When boot camp first begins, coaches strictly focus on team discipline and the ability to follow commands. Once the players start showing discipline and follow commands as a team, the players then move onto the full boot camp experience, which is full of weight lifting and strenuous workouts to build strength, stamina, speed, and mental discipline.

Most days football players will do both weight lifting and drills to focus on speed and stamina.

“I think we started seeing a learning gap between guys who had been in the program for a while and guys who are new to the program,” assistant coach Kyle Grimes said. “What we wanted to do is put everyone on the same page mentally and get them to understand what we’re trying to achieve and how we’re trying to achieve it.”

After finishing 4-6 the past two seasons, the football program is working hard to see better results. Injuries have plagued them much of the past two years.

Last season, the football team had a total of 12 varsity players get injured – six of which were season-ending injuries. By the second game of the regular season the team was missing two of its starting offensive lineman, its starting tight end, starting wide receiver and starting quarterback.

With a large number of experienced players being injured, many young players were called on to start games including many first-year varsity players. This ended up giving many young players the chance to play a lot of snaps and get experience as the season progressed. Although last season didn’t go as planned, the coaching staff remained positive.

“I think the cool part about this last season is the way we finished,” Grimes said. “I thought we finished on a really high note. We showed a lot of promise with what we have headed into the future, but it’s still disappointing. You want to make it to the playoffs, you want to have a winning record and when you don’t do that it will always be disappointing.”

Kingwood Park finished the past season by snapping a six-game losing streak. They won the last three games, outscoring their opponents 132-59. The coaches are looking to use last year’s strong finish as an opportunity to show what the team is capable of when it plays to its full potential.

So far the coaching staff has seen a big change in the way their players are attacking the offseason.

“I think the goal of the offseason is to always improve on your strength, speed, mental toughness, and attention to detail,” Maple said. “Those things will never change. No amount of hard work is ever good enough. And that’s why we want to improve weight lifting scores every six weeks, because it’s an example of the hard work you put in and we want that to improve. Now you’re seeing how much you’re improving and saying, ‘Wow, I’m gaining strength and self confidence.’ So that’s what it’s all about and, of course, in the meantime still maintaining grades.”

Next season, the football team will be placed into an all-new district with only two teams from their last district (Barbers Hill and Crosby) joining them. The new teams include: Goose Creek Memorial, La Porte, Lee, Port Arthur Memorial, Porter, and Sterling High School.

“I think realignment is something that everybody likes to talk about, but at the end of the day we have zero control over that,” Grimes said. “And one thing we try to emphasize as a program is to control what you can control, which realignment we cannot control. We just know that the UIL is going to give us a schedule and tell us who’s in our district and from there we’re going to accept that and go do what we have to in order to be successful and win.”

The work won’t end this summer. The team will hold strength and conditioning camps this summer as well as competing in statewide 7-on-7 tournaments for a chance to compete in the state final in College Station.

Although camps are not mandatory, the team still holds high standards for its players to show up and get better.

“I love to see all of that improvement,” Maple said. “To see the guys go out there as a team and compete against somebody else, that’s what I love the most – just everyone being there together as a team.”