Fresh Air – Passing camps break up summer workout routines

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 27, 2004

For the coaches and players at Spain Park High School it’s all about proving they belong.

The Jaguars will begin football practice in a couple of weeks with just their second-ever batch of senior players. Spain Park High School opened in 2000 with no upper-classmen.

&uot;This is the year,&uot; said Spain Park coach Vince DiLorenzo. &uot;There are no excuses.&uot;

The Jaguars went a long way to proving their place in Class 6A’s toughest region last weekend, finishing third in Southeastern Select 7-on-7 passing camp at Hoover High School.

The camp, showcasing a bevy of top prospects from 16 teams around the nation, featured a tournament-style playoff of 20-minute games.

Teams brought only skill players – quarterbacks, receivers and running backs on offense, and defensive backs and linebackers on defense.

The competition featured a 20-second play clock and allowed the quarterback only four seconds to throw a pass after the snap.

&uot;We really played against some great competition,&uot; DiLorenzo said. &uot;For us to go out and play at the level we did and expect to win each game illustrated to the players and coaches that this team has a lot of potential.&uot;

The Jaguars, seeded No. 9 based on early-round play, stormed back during Saturday’s final round, riding the arm of junior quarterback Neil Caudle in an upset of No. 1 seed Tampa-Jefferson.

Spain Park’s hopes of reaching the title game were dashed by Evangel Christian. The Louisiana powerhouse handed the Jags a four-point loss in a game that came down to the final seconds of play.

Caudle, who passed for 1,241 yards and seven touchdowns last season, was a key factor in the Jaguars success.

&uot;Seven-on-seven starts with your quarterback,&uot; DiLorenzo said. &uot;And Neil Caudle had a very good 7-on-7.&uot;

Caudle got support from a deep receiving corps that DiLorenzo said showcases at least five top-notch receivers.

The group features Clemson-commitment Tyler Grisham, the speedy Patrick Honeycutt, Austin Graham, and brothers Jason and Adam Mims.

&uot;We feel like they’re all capable of stepping up and carrying us if the (opposing) team decides to focus on one of the other four,&uot; DiLorenzo said.

DiLorenzo also praised the efforts of his defense.

The Spain Park coach said passing camps like the Southeastern Select 7-on-7 offer valuable experience in a time when players may get lulled by the summer routine.

&uot;Every coach in high school wishes we were able to compete in the summer more often because it does give the players something to look forward to rather than the monotony of weights and running, weights and running,&uot; DiLorenzo said.

Calera High School coach Ken Adams also noted the benefits of passing camps after his Eagles competed in the Samford University 7-on-7 passing camp last week at Seibert Stadium.

Calera was one of 18 schools to participate in that camp, along with Vincent High School.

&uot;We really got a lot out of it defensively and our receivers got a lot out of it,&uot; Adams said.

Class 2A Calera finished with a 6-7-1 record, including two wins against Vincent and a tie with 5A Homewood.

The Eagles secondary came up big at the end of their matchup with the Patriots.

&uot;We wound up stopping them at the end and that was really big for the younger kids -and the older kids – to see

that they could step in and play.&uot;

Calera also beat 5A McAdory in two-of-three games and competed well against 5A Albertville.

&uot;We didn’t do too bad when you look at some of the schools we were playing,&uot; Adams said.

Mike Watts and Cory Turnbloom were two of six Calera players to lineup at the quarterback position during the camp.

The Eagles were led defensively by Terry Green and Paul Delbridge.

Adams said he was able to work a lot of the team’s younger players as well as allowing his older players to sharpen their skills.

Calera defensive coach Scott Gafford said going up against other teams starting defenses gave the Eagles secondary a test they can’t duplicate during practice against a scout team.

&uot;It gives them as close as you can get to game speed,&uot; Gafford said. &uot;Sometimes you don’t get some of the kids to go as full-speed on a scout defense. It gives them an idea what it’s going to be like this season.&uot;

&uot;I think some of the young kids got their eyes opened,&uot; Adams said