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Offseason Opportunity

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Members of the Connersville High School football team gather for a photo, following a team camp on Thursday. At the camp, the Spartans scrimmaged with both Cambridge City Lincoln and Shenandoah.
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Connersvillesophomore Brayden Jones (17) delivers a pass in a scrimmage against Shenandoahon the CHS practice field Thursday.
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Connersville junior Bryce Walker (20) joins freshman Carter DeBoard (42) in making a tackle against a Cambridge City Lincoln runner, Thursday on the CHS practice field.

By GRADY TATE - gtate@newsexaminer.com

It might be summer, but that isn't slowing the Boys of Fall one little bit.

The Connersville High School football practice field was buzzing with activity on Thursday, as teams from Cambridge City Lincoln and Shenandoah joined the Spartans for a camp that lasted several hours.

Originally, a fourth team was scheduled to appear as well, according to Connersville head coach Adam Kelly.

"We had Shenandoah and Cambridge City Lincoln here today," he said, adding, "Typically, we also have Northeastern at this camp as well, but they had another commitment and could not be here."

The fact that the Knights were missing didn't seem to faze the three teams in attendance, as each team took advantage of seeing live competition.

Kelly pointed out that the process for the local camp is three-fold, as it allows coaches to deal with players one-on-one, work with the team as a whole, and then practice what they've gone over against another team.

"It's a piece by piece thing, so the way that we set these things up is to work individual skills, then work with our own team. We then have the opportunity to take those things that we've gone over and right away, apply them to an opponent who has different defenses.

"That allows us to see how our kids are going to adjust. It also gives the coaching staff the chance to make adjustments. The way this is set up, it rotates from the individual work, to the team work, and then to the competitive piece. It's extremely beneficial.

"It's a real-world type situation. Afterwards, when it's our turn to step off the field, we can fix some things that we saw, emphasize some good things that we did, and then go again."

While there was a lot of teaching from one set to another, Kelly was very optimistic with what he saw from his young charges.

"We saw a lot of good things today," he said. "We went down to Salem on Tuesday, and we saw some real progress from what the kids did there.

"The biggest things I have noticed from this group is attitude and effort. They have been fantastic from those two perspectives. In addition to the those two things, there was a lot of team camaraderie. The team seemed to really be coming together.

"I also saw a lot of team speed, intentional listening and intentional application of what the coaches were trying to get them to do. Everyone listened and everyone learned during the process."

Listening and learning will be key for the Spartans in 2019, as the team continues to tinker with schemes on both sides of the football.

"We're taking the schemes that we've run for the past seven years, and continually evolving them," Kelly said. "We're not making across the board changes, but we're taking what we've been doing and adjusting it, modernizing it.

"That's going to allow us to better use the space on the field."

With that constant evolution, and opening night against Richmond only 10 weeks away, keeping the Spartans on a strong learning pace is of the utmost importance.

The CHS mentor believes that, to this point, the team has that covered.

"There have been a lot of new concepts that we've put in, but with the spring work that we were able to get in, I think we might actually be ahead of where we were at this point last year or a couple of years ago," Kelly said.

Connersville will continue to work on those concepts, and will apply them next Saturday at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center, which is the Indianapolis Colts practice facility. The facility is located at 7001 W. 56th Street in Indianapolis. The public is invited to attend.