After finishing spring practice, Junction City will start its summer work Friday by hosting the Kevin Payne 7-on-7 Lineman Challenge.
The action begins at 9 a.m.
A former standout at Junction City who starred at Louisiana-Monroe before the Chicago Bears selected him in the fifth round of the 2007 draft, Payne has hosted skills competitions in Junction City and Camden the previous two years with the format changing this year.
Awards will also be handed out at the end of the event.
“Most 7-on-7’s cost money, but Kevin is footing the bill on everything here, so it’s a great deal,” said Junction City coach Brad Smith.
Bearden, Hampton, Harmony Grove and Haynesville (La.) are also part of the field.
For Smith, Friday’s event will be about seeing how his younger players fare while getting reps in.
“Just some good work and some conditioning,” Smith said. “My philosophy is you play a lot of your young kids. I already know we’ve got three or four guys that can play. They’ll get some snaps, but I want to put some of these young guys out there and see what they do under fire. We’ll start trying to correct mistakes, coverage mistakes and maybe some disciplinary mistakes, get those covered before you actually play somebody that costs you something.”
Junction City enters Friday’s event having spent much of their time since spring practice ended in the weight room.
“We have kind of laid off of them,” Smith said. “We had a really good, hard offseason. We had a really productive spring with the young kids. We had some in baseball that didn’t get to partake in it. We got to look at some things we wanted to look at. We did one week completely off. After we get back from the dead week, we’re going to change the scope a little bit. This week right here, we want them just to come in and lift. The fieldhouse is open pretty much all day, and several of us are around all day. There’s not a lot of super structure, but enough to make sure they’re getting their work done.”
By having the fieldhouse open for much of the day, the onus has been placed on the players to get their work in.
“Exactly,” Smith said. “Instead of needing to be here one time at a certain time where they can make all of the excuses, now they have all day. If you don’t come now, then you’ll have to face the reckoning at a later date.”
As summer starts in earnest, Smith is pleased with where things stand with the Dragons.
“We’re getting our lifts. We’re getting our runs,” Smith said. “We’ve got some guys that are summer baseball players. They’re playing summer baseball and they haven’t been there as much, but they play their sport with the same passion that they do with football. You can’t knock a guy for that. We’ve got coach (Kendall) Hutcheson working his basketball units in the morning, too. We’re going to share and have our kids do what they want to through the month of June and have some fun, come lift and go to work on everything. When we come back in July, we’re fixing to be all business.”