Alphonso Townsend, new head football coach at Lima Senior, is excited about what he is seeing in his first month of workouts but knows there is plenty of work to be done.
Townsend watched his team conduct seven-on-seven drills Monday, which was the first day teams were authorized by the governor’s office and the Ohio High School Athletic Association to return to contact practices.
And while the Spartans ran pass patterns and tossed the ball around, Townsend said this is just another step in a long process in getting his team ready for the season, if in fact there is a season.
Townsend, who was an assistant coach on the Lima Senior football team since 2014, takes over the program that went 15-25 in four seasons, including 3-7 last fall, under Andre Griffin.
“I think we really have done a pretty good job as a staff and as an athletic department of sustaining those guidelines,” said Townsend about adhering to all the restrictions. “We got after it a little bit today but not too heavy as far as contact wise but we still have to practice social distancing.”
Townsend adds that he has been encouraged by the players’ respect for the guidelines and their attitude as they continue to forge a bond between both coaching staff and players. He also knows these players are adjusting to his style of coaching.
“We are not sure there is going to be a season but we are preparing like there is going to be a season so we come out here and demand 100 percent from our guys and I really think the guys are coming out and responding to that,” Townsend said.
At Monday’s practice approximately 40 players came out for the early morning workout that began at 7:15 a.m. and Townsend said as many as 60 have shown up but because of the late start to conditioning he knows it interferes with summer plans.
“On a normal day we have from 40 to 45 and on one day we had up to 60 but with the summer and kids’ work schedules it has been pretty good for us,” Townsend said. “I think the kids have been responding and they have adapted to some of the new stuff that is going on.”
Townsend added that he feels he has assembled a solid coaching staff that has helped the transition to the new regime an easier one and he is also relying on upperclassmen to provide some leadership for the team.
The immediate goal for Townsend is to whip the team into shape and get them disciplined through hard work and consistency.
And of course the first major goal is posting a victory in the first game.
“I just think we are just trying to get better each day and improve one percent each day,” Townsend said. “Our focus is on our first game and then worry about the rest. It is going to take hard work and finishing. The kids know that everything we are going to get this year we are going to have to earn it. I think if everyone does their job we will be okay.”
While Townsend’s focus is putting together a winning football program he thinks developing student athletes into well rounded adults is more important.]
Even before the practices and while the school was shut down in March, Townsend was already in contact with players looking for them to maintain their grades and added that he has been happy with the outcome. He points out that 85 to 90 percent of the players were eligible to play and added that 10 to 15 of his players made the honor roll for the first time.
“I really think long term I want to build all-around well-rounded young men,” Townsend said. “A lot of people want to talk about wins and losses but to me it is important to build young men than worry about the wins and losses. I think people should now about the positives and at the end of the day the grades mean more than anything.”