Teams change a lot from season to season and can change during the season with just one player missing.
That is why the more time a football team works together in the off season can make a difference during the season.
The Ottawa High School football players have put the time in this summer lifting, running and learning new plays from a new coaching staff.
“We got up early at the crack of dawn,” junior Andre Lewis said. “Working our butts off. Trying to get better. We put in plays.
“It makes us a team ... a family. We trust each other. We know what we can do together. If you come in late, you don’t know the coaches.”
The summer regiment has paid off.
“The weight room numbers have been good,” first-year OHS head football coach Rob Hedrick said.
Senior Cory Peoples said this has been the best summer of his four years.
“I like seeing it,” the all-league linebacker said. “I like how much work we’ve been doing. The summer has been long.”
The returning juniors and seniors will have new roles this season. Not only are they the leaders, but many will be playing different positions.
“The upperclassmen have all played and will be good leaders,” Hedrick said. “The underclassmen have been doing a great job in participating and listening, watching and doing what they need to do to get better.
“There are so many moving parts. We have asked the kids to change positions. We will have kids working quarterback and O-line. It is an odd combination. There are kids you have to get on the field.”
Weidl said leadership is a role the upperclassmen need to relish.
“There is a lot of adjustment,” he said. “We don’t have very many [upperclassmen]. We have a lot of young kids. A lot of freshmen have a lot of potential.”
Peoples said the leaders have to be disciplined in their approach.
“We have show them how to grow up fast in football,” he said.
Lewis said, “There is a big role we have to take. Last year we had more role models. The juniors and seniors have to show the younger cats what it is like to play high school football. What it is like to go up against different people and teams. It is a big role for us.
“We started right after school ended.”
And it will up those leaders to see the work continues in the next month as coaches are not permitted to work with the athletes until first day of fall practice on Aug. 19.
“A lot of it comes down to them,” Hedrick said. “They have the discipline to do it themselves.”
Peoples said the players have made a lot of progress and can’t stop because of the rule that coaches can’t be there.
Lewis is transitioning from an all-league receiver to quarterback, a position he has never played.
“He knows he has to have the ball in his hands,” Hedrick said. “There are several guys like that.”
Peoples and Kord Ferguson are trying their hand at running back and defensive end.
Lewis is trying to learn quickly his new position.
“It is a tougher position,” he said. “I am looking at all the players. Who should I throw the ball to.
“You have to work on reading the level of the linebackers and where the safety is going.”
The players had a chance to play Wellsville in 7-on-7.
“We got more out of that than we did in three days of practice,” Hedrick said. “We have not been able to do 7-on-7 in awhile.”