INDIAN LAND — While some Indian Land High School students vacationed to the coast for their spring break, junior fullback Charles Turner visited Clemson University and the University of South Carolina.
He wasn’t being recruited, but he and his Warrior teammates earned a valuable look-in to the next level of football and what it takes to earn a spot there.
“The first thing all the kids noticed were how big the guys were,” said Warrior coach Mike Mayer. “They were in awe. It was a real eye-opener for the kids.”
“We’ve definitely got to start hitting the weight room more than teams in the past,” Turner admitted recently, hours after practice. “It is the next level and everyone was talking about how it inspired them to run harder and push harder.”
Mayer’s hoping that his 2013 squad, which is light in experience, will be able to rise to the occasion in the weight room to stay competitive in region play this August.
For a football team that finished 1-9 (0-6 in 2A conference play) last fall, Indian Land High School has nowhere to go but up. Mayer is sending his kids to a weeklong skills camp this month at Presbyterian College to help mold some of his young players into a cohesive unit.
“We just want to be a step ahead of where we were at spring practice,” Mayer said. “We’re young and inexperienced and we have to get physically stronger.”
Mayer says that despite a large senior class, there will likely be three or four sophomores playing in starting positions this fall. Where Indian Land will lack in speed and experience, it will have to make up with in muscle.
Mayer says they’ve taken 22 workouts during the summer, but only eight of his 80-plus strong group have attended every one so far.
“Working harder in the weight room, we need to add mass and weight,” Mayer said. “We’ll be able to see if a kid has improved by 10 or 20 pounds, but it’s also about the kids who have been here.”
The group of Warriors, selected from the junior varsity and varsity squads, will play seven-on-seven drills against schools from higher conferences with the intention of giving players the most playing time possible. Mayer’s been taking his Indian Land squad to Clinton, for the camp since 2005.
“You have to put some effort into not playing, because we really throw them into the fire,” Mayer said. “It’s a lot of work.”
Mayer doesn’t see any “superstar” on his team, but hopes the squad can provide a fight one of the toughest conferences in the region.
“It’s the [Southeastern Conference] of 2A football,” he said. “There’s not a bad team. Everybody’s good and anybody can beat anybody else.”
Returning quarterback George Morris is expected to link up with senior receiver Manny McCord throughout the season, while junior Shea Rodgers is expected to turn heads as an all-state candidate for the Warriors’ kicking game. Mayer says there are no guaranteed spots after last year’s “disaster” and that several players will have to adapt to a new position to give Indian Land the best opportunity to win games.
“I’m confident we’ll be better this year,” Mayer said. “I feel like we’re more cohesive and have better team chemistry. We’re willing to make the sacrifices for what we’re deficient in.”
Turner says that connectivity was an issue in 2012, but promised that fans should see a more unified Warrior team this fall.
“This camp will open more doors and make our bonding a lot stronger,” he said. “We need to be on the same page.”