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Laurence Manning Academy coach wants to focus on strength

The Sumter Item sports writer Danny Kelly conducted a question-and-answer interview with each of the 12 high school football coaches in Sumter, Clarendon and Lee counties, asking each the same five questions about their recently concluded spring practices. Today we have Laurence Manning Academy head coach Austin Floyd.

Q: What was your No. 1 goal in spring practice, and do you feel like you accomplished that?

A: I think the big thing was just to get the kids acquainted and myself with them, and get them to understand that we wanted them to be enthusiastic about accepting what the new coaching staff wanted, and I guess them to adjust to my coaching style and my staff’s coaching style so we could get the best out of each day during the spring. And I do feel like we did that. I feel like kids got pretty comfortable with me, understood my expectations and my staff’s expectations, and we were able to progress pretty quickly throughout the spring and now into the summer.

Q: Were there any players who stood out to you?

A: One of the ones that’s probably standing out the biggest right now, his name is Van Gardner. He’s offensive lineman, defensive lineman, works very hard in the weight room, works hard during spring practices. Can be a leader for us up front, offensively and defensively. He’s just one of those guys (who’s) gonna do what you ask him to do. Isn’t necessarily going to stand out with any kinda statistics, other than his grade he’s going to get with OL and DL. You can’t have enough of those guys that show up and do what you ask them to do. He’s one, and the other two, two skill guys. One’s a quarterback, Burgess Jordan, does a good job commanding the huddle. Going to be a senior, he can spin it a little bit. He’s taken what we want to do offensively and allowing us to expand on it a little more. And then the last guy, the third one is Wyatt Rowland. Wyatt is a pretty quick guy, played receiver, some DB, running back; will kinda do the same for us. He’s a guy that needs to touch the ball a good bit for us to be successful, and for him to be individually successful it will also help our team. Because he’s a guy that can score, so it makes it a little easier on the play calling when you have a guy like that that can take it and go the distance. All three of those kids are great kids, and they show up, and they lead by example, and they do the things the coaches ask them to do, whether it be on the field or whatever. They’re great role models for all of their teammates.

Q: Was there anything that left you concerned?

A: There’s a couple of guys that have fallen off, and have quit coming to weight lifting, and stopped coming during spring. Not sure what it was, if they didn’t want to work, and I’m talking about very few, like three or four. But with us, with (South Carolina High School League) 1A and 2A and 3A and SCISA, everyone counts. At the end of the day, it’s just an opportunity for someone else to step up. The guy that’s coming over the summer, they have a certain number of lifts they have to make, and if they don’t make them they’re not a part of the team. I have a core of about 28-30 that are coming every day, and we’re going to roll with them. Because that’s the only way we’re going to be where I want us to be, is for us to get strong in the weight room. You don’t make your lifts, you’re not going to be a part. There’s a couple of kids, the three or four that I thought could’ve helped us, that have fallen off. That’s the biggest concern I guess. We’re going to move forward with what we got, and I’m going to coach the fool out of them, and we’re going to have the best team they allow us to have.

Q: Where do you need to make the most progress over summer entering fall?

A: The biggest thing is we gotta get stronger. I know that sounds easily said, but offensively and defensively, a lot of what I want to do comes with us being tougher and more physical than our opponent, and that starts in the weight room. So we just gotta have guys that are coming a consistent four days a week, sometimes five, and that are getting stronger, and getting in shape. If we can do that we’ll that we’ll in be a good spot coming into August.

Q: What was one area or position you feel like you solidified in the spring?

A: I think up front, offensively and defensively, if we have everybody I can have a pretty good group. And I coach those two positions personally. That’s my group. I was OC (offensive coordinator) and OL (offensive line) coach at Lamar (High School). I got a heart for it. Gauging it, I think we can be pretty good there. If we just, keep everyone healthy. I’ve got a good seven or eight, but if you lose one or two that thins you out and makes it tough. So, if everyone is healthy, I think we can be pretty strong up front. If we can be pretty good up front, that makes the rest of the team go. That’s a plus, definitely.

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