Jacksonville Daily Progress
For most people spring means getting outside, possibly even planting a garden, or even taking a Spring Break vacation.
But for Jacksonville High School head football coach Chris Taber spring is the time to separate the men from the boys, sift out the chaff to get to the wheat and to start finding the answers to a slew of questions regarding the 2013 Jacksonville Fight'n Indian football team.
Taber and his staff of assistant coaches are doing this by putting the young men who will comprise the freshman, junior varsity and varsity units through a two-phase process that began on Monday with the return of the Indian Builder program, which runs through March 29.
In about a month Jacksonville will begin spring football practice for the first time since 2004.
Spring workouts will conclude with a Blue/Gold inter squad scrimmage at 6:30 p.m. May 24 at Tomato Bowl.
So, if everything goes well, after the scrimmage is over, Taber and company should have many of their personnel decisions solidified.
Back to the Indian Maker now.
“It's a glorified boot camp that has been done here in the past and the goal is to build mental and physical toughness,” Taber said.
Athletes are sent through a serious of stations that, simply stated, focus on weight training, agility and quickness, cardio-oriented activities and drills that promote working together as a single body, as a team.
“The whole point of this is to get the kids to a point of total fatigue,” Taber explained. “And then when they reach that point figure out a way to push a little bit harder and to get through it.”
There are also elements of Indian Maker that closely mirror a key portion of the game of football.
“We teach them how to memorize the different drills and the the plays and their assignments, which is the same thing that we ask them to do at football practice and in the games,” Taber said.
Jacksonville was not able to implement the program last spring due to the somewhat late hiring of Taber.
But this year is a different story, one that should trigger a more favorable outcome this fall for Tribe football.
“We're doing something no one else is doing,” Taber said. “We feel that we are getting their minds right as we prepare to move into spring football real soon.”
Spring football returns
The Tribe will kickoff spring practice on April 22.
University Interscholastic league rules allow schools in Class 5A and 4A to hold up to 18 practice sessions during a 30-day period in the spring.
Schools taking part in spring football, are forced to start fall camp one week later as a trade off.
Jacksonville will practice four days a week, after school, and will loosely follow the same regimen that the Indians do on a game week.
“We'll go Monday through Thursday,” Taber said. “If we lose a day because of bad weather, we will move that one to Friday. Generally, Wednesday will be a short day where we will work a lot on special teams and recover a bit.
“Then on Thursday we will go live and scrimmage and work the game plan that we have put in that week for an opponent.”
Taber said that spring practice is very essential for Jacksonville football, especially this year.
“This is very important for us because we will graduating so many (nearly 40 young men) this year,” he said. “We know we have some good-young football players, but we have to see if they can play at the level that is needed on Friday night. So we will be able to evaluate everyone for about four weeks and really get through this thing and teach them our offensive and defensive schemes. We will be depending on some of our younger kids to step up pretty quick and to be able to learn all the things that is needed to play at the varsity level.”
Taber alluded to the fact that spring practice should give the coaching staff a good idea of who can start on each side of the ball and who can be counted on to provide depth at the various positions as well.
“I think for the most part we should come out of the spring and know who are probable starters are,” Taber said. “We will also have an opportunity to move different kids around and see who has the ability to play different positions. For example, we may have a safety that we can also teach to play cornerback in the spring, and then when the season gets her, if we need another corner, we know where to look. We're not just looking for starters. We are looking at who can play on Friday night.”