New GMC Prep football head coach Lee Coleman believes his program has already come a long way these past couple months, but there remains work to be done.
The former GMC junior college wide receivers coach says he had just six guys coming to workouts when he took over the prep school program, but that number has grown significantly to where it currently stands — 22. Coleman says his own players have been some of his best recruiters as the team looks to begin a new chapter under the new leadership.
“These guys have done a great job with new guys coming in telling them, ‘It’s a new culture, and it’s a new way. We’re going to do it the right way and we’re going to compete.’ That’s been good for us so far,” the new head coach said at The Union-Recorder’s high school football media day Monday.
While it’s possible the Bulldogs will still have the smallest roster of any team they face this season, Coach Coleman is ready to ride off into war with the athletes he has now and show more prospective players that GMC Prep can have an impact on the high school football landscape.
In a perfect world, Coleman’s 22 student-athletes would be his starters on each side of the football, giving everyone built-in breathers depending on which unit is on the field. The world being imperfect, many upperclassman Bulldogs are going to have to play both ways in order to keep the team in ballgames. It’s a scenario Coleman and his guys have been preparing for since they started summer workouts in June. Good old-fashioned conditioning was the focus for much of the summer as footballs were kept in a closet until a later date. Georgia’s hot summer even lent a hand in the Bulldogs’ conditioning by creating a tougher environment for workouts.
“Milledgeville, Georgia is probably the hottest place I’ve ever been to,” Coleman said. “Everybody thinks the desert is hot. I was out in Arizona and it’s nothing like Milledgeville, Georgia in that pit. But these guys understand that if you want to win and be great that’s what you’ve got to do to win games. You’ve got to be in shape to even compete.”
Coach Coleman pointed out that he got a pleasant surprise when he and his team attended a padded practice day at Treutlen County recently. While he liked the way his team competed and gave effort in the practice environment, his players actually came up to him afterwards and said they aren’t as in shape as they need to be if they’re going to be playing both ways Friday nights. It’s that type of candidness that could pay off for GMC in the long run.
The focus on conditioning isn’t just due to the low roster number. It’s also based off an observation from last season.
“Last year they were in games in the third and fourth quarter, but they didn’t have the energy,” said Coleman. “We have to change that and figure it out. Hopefully if I get more bodies I can have the luxury of having guys play one way, but in single A that won’t realistically happen. It just means the guys I do have gotta get in shape. We might look like a track team, but that’s OK because we’ll be in shape.”
The GMC Prep football team will see just how in shape it is next Friday, Aug. 9 as the Bulldogs are scheduled to make the short trip to Eatonton to take on Gatewood in scrimmage action. The following Friday, Aug. 16, Coach Coleman’s crew will welcome Region 7-A foe Mount De Sales to Davenport Field for a final preseason dress rehearsal. The regular season kicks off Aug. 23 as GMC is set to host Glascock County.