Members of the London High School football team were sporting brand new shiny helmets while practicing on the brand new artificial playing surface on Bowlus Field Monday, Aug. 1.
As the beginning of a new school year began for the Red Raiders and all the other high school sports teams across the state of Ohio on the first official day of practice, London High School football coach Kyle Cutler was quick to point out that while there’s a lot of new surrounding his team, it’s the old school approach that will ultimately determine how good his team will be.
“This is what we do, this is what we pride ourselves on,” Cutler said. “It’s London football we’re part of the grind. We know it’s part of the process to get where we want to go. Nothing will be handed to you so for us, this is home. This is who we are.”
The Red Raiders find themselves coming off a rare winning season, one in which they were 6-4 last year. But in order for the team to take the next step, Cutler knows there’s going to be some learning and growing that will need to take place. Especially as the squad lives life without first team All-Ohio running back Michael Johnson.
He was the Division IV Ohio Offensive Player of the Year last season after rushing for nearly 3,000 yards in just 10 games. His graduation means there’s a major role to fill on the team, but the London coaches knows that this time of year is when players start to step forward.
Players are getting accustomed to playing on the new, faster field surface and the coaches are adjusting game plans as well.
“It is pretty cool to be out here practicing in a facility like this, especially since it’s not too hot out,” Cutler said. “We’re ready, we’re ready to come out, work hard and get better each day.
“I think we have to be cognizant of how much faster the new surface is, but at the end of the day, when you have good players you usually win. And sometimes when you don’t have good players you have to put them in a situation where they can become a good player. I think (the turf) magnifies that process, you have to try and put kids in the right positions. It is a different game on this surface no doubt.”
The number of returning players is up and that has helped speed up the learning process the team is going through.
“They know what to expect, we still have a learning curve which we’re trying to catch up on, the numbers are up but we still want more,” the coach said. “These guys know what to expect, so the transition from drill to drill or if we’re learning something that’s new goes smoother. I don’t see the wide-eyed, what-is-going-on look in their eyes anymore.”
The Red Raiders will practice a traditional two-a-day schedule the rest of this week.
Reach Chris Miles at 740-852-1616, ext. 1618 or via Twitter @MadPressSports.
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