INDIAN LAND — Indian Land sophomore center Jacob Williams was worn out when he arrived home at 6:30 a.m. Saturday. After a full practice the evening before, he and the Indian Land football team lifted weights, studied safety films and pored over formations throughout the night, before completing another full practice at 4:15 a.m.
Coach Michael Mayer was hoping the night would help his young squad bond as a unit from the opening day of official practices.
Williams said it was just the tonic the Warriors needed to rid themselves of what Mayer called the “disease of me,” which pervaded a team that finished 1-9 (0-6) during 2012.
“By the second practice we had, I don’t think there was one person who didn’t want to fall asleep, so at that point in the practice we had to have each other’s backs and pull together as a unit,” Williams said. “I slept until about four in the afternoon.”
Mayer’s team was back and well-rested Monday afternoon as they kicked off a full week of intensive practices. The veteran coach is hoping to discover his best options at offensive line to protect valuable senior skill players such as quarterback George Morris and receiver Manny McCord.
The majority of last season’s offensive line either graduated or left during the offseason, meaning defensive tackle RayQuan Anthony and others might have to play on both sides of the ball this season. Senior defensive tackle Isaiah Vinson has bulked up and looks to be a threat on both ends.
Anthony has no worries that the line will hold no matter who has to step up for Indian Land’s first game at Buford in three weeks.
“With George and Manny, we’re like best buds, and I know they expect greatness from me,” he said. “I try to give them as much as I can, and they encourage me to do better everyday.”
Such camaraderie is a welcome sight in Warriors camp nowadays.
“The players were all about the names on the back of their jersey instead of the name on the front,” Anthony said of last season. “Trying to outshine everybody, but it’s not about ‘me,’ so that’s why Coach is teaching us to be a team.”
This time around, Anthony and Williams will be protecting an improved and experienced Morris, who has been putting in extra summer hours to become more aware of positional advantages from the pocket, as well as reading defenses. With a young offensive line, there’s likely to be more pressure on Morris to make quick decisions. Entering his final season as an Indian Land quarterback, Morris knows it’s his time to shine.
“The day is gonna come and you just have to deal with it,” he said. “You just go full force, play your best. … I’m gonna have fun this year and enjoy it.”
Despite the graduations and seven defections over the offseason, Mayer’s core group is all accounted for. Whether Indian Land moves closer to a 50/50 split between running and passing is yet to be seen. Mayer says the youth on his team is exciting because there’s much to learn about it.
“Every year, I say we’re gonna throw it more, and George has done extremely well this summer,” he said. “We’ll definitely be more balanced than we have in previous years, but how close we’ll be, we’ll find that out. We’ve got good team chemistry and we’re making sure to all be on the same page.”