The East Lincoln Mustangs football team started its summer workouts with a heavy emphasis on weight training and conditioning. With a roster that is expected by the coaching staff to consist of between 15 and 20 seniors, the Mustangs and head coach Mike Byus feel confident that they’ll have more than enough time to go over the playbook once practices allow body-to-body contact on July 30.
“We haven’t done one single play so far,” Byus said. “All we’ve done is lifting and running. My biggest point of emphasis in the summer is strength and conditioning, rather than plays. Sometimes what we do might look complicated, but really it’s not. We can’t teach them to be bigger, faster and stronger. I don’t want to have them out here running plays instead of lifting and running.”
Many of East Lincoln’s returning football players are multi-sport athletes, and are participating in summer basketball or baseball. That fact may discourage some football coaches, but Byus said he likes to have well-rounded athletes, and that the majority of his players have been attending football practices when their schedules allow them to.
“There aren’t many times when a young man’s in town that he doesn’t come,” Byus said. “If I have a basketball/football player, then I’d rather have him playing basketball and lifting and then I’ll teach him what to do when I get him in August. I don’t think the kids need to play just one sport; I don’t want them to just play my sport. I want them to be well-rounded people and enjoy the high school experience.”
East Lincoln’s summer workouts have averaged around 50 athletes per night, with the largest turnout coming from rising freshmen, some of whom may wind up playing on the varsity squad. Byus said that many returning players, including some that are expected to occupy starting positions in the fall, have also been attending the training sessions. Center Jake O’Brien and defensive tackles Coriyo Boyd and Dallas Smith have attended the majority of the workouts, and wide receivers Jake Driver and Jesse Earnhardt have been showing a “strong work ethic,” Byus said.
“Earnhardt has been working out in the mornings and in the evenings,” Byus said. “He’s put on about 20 lbs., and I don’t know if it’s possible, but he might be a little faster than he was last year too.”
Garrett Young, last year’s starting quarterback, has attended several college camps during the offseason, but the Mustangs are still looking for someone to fill the role that Marcus McDowell left at running back after graduation. McDowell led the Mustangs in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns.
“We’re going to have to have some people step up at running back and at the defensive end spots,” Byus said.