The Pratt High School Greenback football team has been working hard this summer to prepare for the upcoming season.

The Pratt High School Greenback football team has been working hard this summer to prepare for the upcoming season.

Preparations began back in June, just days after school had let out for summer. PHS head coach Jamie Cruce and his staff held a 5-day team camp, at which the main focus was to install offensive and defensive schemes. With just helmets on, the players also received some individual instruction on technique.

That camp was followed up with attendance at the Hutchinson football camp. At Hutch camp, players added shoulder pads to their attire and scrimmaged with 6 other teams. There were six practice sessions over the course of 2 ½ days. The format was ‘controlled scrimmage.’ “We had quick whistles, trying to keep everybody upright,” Coach Cruce explained. “Our kids did well, we competed well.” The purpose is for players to practice their offensive and defensive assignments at something approaching game speed.

The Greenbacks have also hosted a couple of ‘jamborees’ where other teams come to Pratt and they scrimmage in a similar format to the Hutch camp. “The main difference is that the jamborees last 2 ½ hours instead of 2 ½ days,” Cruce said. Inman, Medicine Lodge and LaCrosse scrimmaged with PHS and each other in the jamborees.

In the most recent jamboree, last Saturday morning, the teams got to practice in weather that felt like football weather. “We have been blessed this summer with good weather for football practice,” Cruce acknowledged.

All summer long, the kids have been conditioning starting at 6:30 a.m. On Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, they lift weights, work on pliometrics and core, and do a series of agility drills. Wednesdays are more of a ‘practice’, as the players install and walk through plays. “We mostly work on offensive plays during that time,” Cruce explained. “Without pads, it’s easier to work on offense than defense.”

About 25-35 Greenbacks are in attendance at every morning session. Liberty Middle School athletes have also been working in the weight room this summer. Coming in at 8:30 after the high schoolers have departed, the middlers work on the same lifts as their high school counterparts. “We emphasize form more than weight with the middle school kids,” Cruce said, “but they do the same lifts as the high school kids.” Participation numbers among LMS Frogs has averaged about 15-18 at the summer workouts, Cruce estimated.

The public will get to witness the culmination of the summer’s conditioning program. On Thursday, August 7, at 6:30 a.m., the Frogs will max-out test on bench and clean. Coach Cruce emphasized that the testing session will be open to the public, so everyone can see the strength gains that are being made.

After July 19, there can be no “team coaching” by Cruce and his staff— installing and tweaking plays etc. Instruction will be in small groups of 6 or less, and conditioning will continue. “We’ve got a good group that is working hard,” Coach Cruce concluded. “We’re going to compete next year.”