Callisburg

The Callisburg Wildcats are going through some growing pains the first couple weeks of practice, but are in good hands with head coach Eddie Gill, who has 39 years of coaching experience under him.

There is still plenty to work on for the Callisburg Wildcats, but the first week of football practice served as a welcome and necessary crash course for the season.

Callisburg head coach Eddie Gill is in his first year at the helm for the Wildcats and he is thankful for the opportunity to start the season, especially after all the uncertainty surrounding this year.

The first week has been clad with fundamentals. Every facet of the game from offense to defense to special teams is being emphasized from the ground up.

“It’s been tons of fundamentals and techniques,” Gill said. “It’s been about learning and teaching. There has been lots of walk and talk. You’ve got to go back over what you’ve already learned because it changes once you’re in pads. There is a lot of evaluation as far as the physicality of each kids. Some kids are naturally more aggressive and more physical. That’s where you see if when the ball snaps if they are going to take a step back or go downhill.”

The Wildcats have now been able to put on full pads and hit and Gill said that allows them to get more complicated with their drills, which is important for the young Callisburg squad.

The first week was filled with apprehension from the players, Gill said, and the new faces on the team contributed to how slowly the Wildcats’ coaching staff is taking the start of the season.

“We have sort of a new staff and once we got moving around, we found out that coaching is coaching and playing is playing and it kind of took care of itself,” Gill said. “There was a little bit of tension in the air the first day, but the players didn’t quite know what to expect or the procedures.”

Gill has had talks with his staff that this first round of two-a-day practices will look much different from next year’s two-a-days.

As a result, Gill said he is cutting his players a little more slack so they can grasp all the concepts he and his staff are trying to teach them.

“Right now, not just because of COVID, but it’s because we’re a new staff, so there is a lot more introduction going on,” Gill said. “This is what we’re expecting of you and this is what you can expect of us. There is a lot more explaining and a lot more talking. I think everybody is excited and all the coaches are excited. One of the great things about coming into a program that’s been down for a little bit, any improvement gets you excited and you can see that improvement going on.”

Gill has experience building new programs and he said is used to the slow go of things the first few weeks and months to start the season.

As tough as it might get to begin, Gill said he enjoys the process.

“That’s familiar, but there are always different coaches and kids and that’s what makes this profession wonderful,” Gill said. “It’s very exciting anytime you start something new. Everything about what we’re doing in today’s world is a new thing. The new part is exciting. Are you going to be able to prepare better than your opponent or is what we’re planning going to be different than someone else? Those new things are exciting.”

Gill said he’s seen that progress in several ways from physical improvement to quickness and strength.

“We’re still doing a lot of conditioning and explosive movements with the kids and mentally, they’re starting to understand the game we are trying to plan,” Gill said. “Emotionally, we’re trying to train them not to get too uptight. We don’t want them getting too high or too low. It’s that guy that’s real steady that really counts.”

Conditioning was the primary aim these first two weeks and Gill wants to see the improvement from the freshmen to the seniors.

Gill said he isn’t anxious about anything besides getting to play the season and that he looks forward to the grind of the season.

“Another great thing about athletics is that even though it’s a bunch of hard work that there is enjoyment in that and that the end is meeting the means,” Gill said. “It doesn’t matter if I go 10 more years or two more years.”

Patrick Hayslip can be reached at sports@gainesvilleregister.com or on Twitter at @PatrickHayslip

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