Admirals work on fitness while displaying their skill

dmbarber@sunherald.comJuly 8, 2014 

GULFPORT -- The Gulfport Admirals were taking two tracks Tuesday in their summer football workouts.

Linemen -- offensive and defensive -- were working on the weights and on their agility in the Lindy Callahan Weight Room while the quarterbacks, receivers, linebackers and defensive backs got on the bus and headed up to Harrison Central for a 7-on-7 passing tournament.

As for as summer workouts, the players are fairly fresh since they just returned to conditioning on June 23.

The MHSAA mandated dead week is next week, then workouts continue until practice formally opens on Aug. 4.

Gulfport is playing a 12-game schedule so there is no open date. The non-region schedule is formidable, starting with the Shrimp Bowl game with Bay High on Aug. 23. Then the Admirals play three straight home games against Madison Central, Prattville, Ala., and Moss Point. The Admirals then go to Wayne County before their region opener on Sept. 26 at St. Martin.

"We got out of school late so we've only been back in business two weeks,'' said Gulfport coach Eddie Pierce, who had arthroscopic surgery on his knee Monday. "The kids came back in pretty good shape. We worked once against West Harrison (in 7-on-7) and went out to Harrison Central (Tuesday).

"Giving them two weeks away from it has helped them. When they came back they were fresh -- the coaches, too.''

The offensive line returns intact, which means that talented offensive players like quarterback Richaud Floyd,

and wide receivers Johnathan Nance and J.J. Smith have time to do some damage.

"I feel like this year is good for everybody,'' Floyd said. "We have more weapons available, more experience. We are a more feisty bunch than last year and have more energy.''

Michael Easterling and Will Magee were two of the offensive linemen Tuesday who were pushing themselves, whether lifting weights or doing agility drills or working on shoulder drills.

"We want to build up our strength before the start of season,'' Easterling said. "We want to be stronger, better, faster than we were last season so we can make it to the state championship. We are also doing 110-yard sprints, building endurance.''

"You come in here and go straight to work,'' Magee said. "We're lifting weights, doing agility stuff inside and more agility stuff outside.''

As to the rumors that lower humidity has made it cooler in July, Magee said, "It's still pretty hot out there.''

Pierce likes to run a high-powered offense -- something he showed in his first full season as Gulfport coach in 2013 -- and he likes what he saw in the spring.

"We only lost one guy off the offensive line from last year,'' Pierce said. "In fact, the offensive line that started against Meridian (in the playoffs) is back and intact. That is a plus for us.

"Richaud gives us an added dimension (at quarterback). Teams will have to account for his running. Thad (Miller) was a great thrower and ran the offense well (last year). He was going to hand it off or throw it. With Richard, he can throw it, hand it off or run it. I thought Nance had a good spring coming out of baseball.''

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