ALBANY – The Albany football team had some bright spots during 7-on-7 drills over the summer, transitioning to a more pass-friendly offense, but Hornets coach Mike Janis is getting overly excited just yet as fall camp gets started.
“If we were going into a seven-man football league where we would still continue to play 7-on-7, I like where we are, but that’s not the case,” said Janis, whose team opens camp Aug. 5. “We’re going to have to establish a run game. We’re going to have to run the football, and we’re going to have to develop some offensive linemen.”
The Hornets’ offensive line will be anchored by returnee Ronnie Turbeville, who was a Class 3A All-State selection and All-Parish last season, but one of the focal points during camp will be filling out the remaining spots on the offensive front.
“It’s just one guy, so the emphasis going into camp is we’ve learned a lot with our skill positions, now we’ve got to learn (about) the offensive line,” Janis said. “We’ve got to be able to be able to protect the quarterback. We’ve got to be able to run the football. We’re really going to harp on that and see if we can’t find some linemen that can get out there and get after it.”
Albany is also looking to solidify spots on the defensive line.
“We’ve been working a lot in the defensive back field and with our linebackers,” Janis said. “Now it turns into real football. Teams that we play are going to run the football more than they throw it, and you’ve got to figure out a way to do that. Definitely emphasis gets turned from the 7-on-7 to the front sevens of the football team.”
Per Louisiana High School Athletic Association regulations, teams will work in helmets during the first week of practice, which Janis said will also include starting from scratch for the Hornets.
“That first week, we go back to zero,” Janis said. “I know we’ve learned a lot this summer. I told my quarterback (J.J. Doherty) and my receivers and our defensive backs, when we go into camp, it’s going to feel like we’re in slow motion because we’re going to break it down to the most basic level and we’re going to build it back up again. Our install is going to be very slow. We’re going to focus on one concept a day both offensively and defensively, and we’re going to build from there, so it’s going to be a slow process, but when we play 7-on-7, we’ve got 22 kids out there. It’s not the whole team, and it’s not something that you can do on a Friday night.”
The intensity will ramp up the second week, and Janis is looking for the team to have ‘a firm grasp of the basics’.
“I think in Week 2, you can start to build on what you’re trying to do and schemes, but when we get into Week 2, I want the kids to know where to line up,” Janis said. “I want them to know the most basic concepts and plays in our offense and the most basic coverages and fronts in our defense. If they can do that in three or four different looks, I think I’ll be pretty satisfied.”
The final two weeks of preseason practice will focus on preparation for scrimmage and jamboree action. Albany scrimmages at Pine on Aug. 23 at 6 p.m. and hosts Pope John Paul II in the jamboree on Aug. 30 at 7:30 p.m.
“The kids get a little bit better feel for what game week will be like as we start preparing for a different opponent," Janis said. "You start to game plan, which is always big and actually a little bit easier on us coaches because we just want to ‘Install, Install’, and then when you get to game-planning, you have a better idea of what you’re actually installing for and what you’re working for or working to stop or working to attack, so it really helps you kind of trim some of the stuff out of the playbook offensively and just focus on some key aspects.”
The games may be a few weeks away, but for Janis and the Hornets, the season has officially arrived.
“I think we’re all ready to get started,” Janis said. “We’ve been in 7-on-7 all summer. Our kids have done a great job with that, but it’s time to play real football, and I think everybody’s excited to do this. I think we’ve shown some promise this summer of what we could be capable of, but real football is 11 guys, it’s not seven. I’m excited to see what we can do as a team, and I know our team’s excited to do that as well.”