By Thomas Sellers Jr.
The Millington Trojans spending part of the summer at the Millington First Baptist Church is a nearly decade tradition.
But the 2018 Trojan FCA Football Camp sponsored by the staff of First Baptist had a twist. Millington Head Coach Chris Michael and staff had to adjust to new TSSAA rules in preparing the players for the upcoming campaign.
“This week we are in full pads,” the veteran coach said. “The full pads date passed this past Monday. The first time we’ve been up here doing our camp in full pads. It’s always been prior to going full pads. That’s a change for us. It’s different kinds of work for us — very physical. But still a lot of learning. We’ve got a really young team.
“TSSAA changed the rules again,” Michael added. “They’re consistently making changes. They’ve been changing and putting in practice regulations on heat. That’s been around for a few years. They they started changing what you can do as far as the number of practices.”
The Millington coaches had the challenges of managing time and methods of practice during the three-day stay at the church located at 5010 West Union Road.
“The types of practices, basically they’ve eliminated two-a-days the way two-a-days used to be known,” Michael noted. “You can’t go twice a day in consecutive days. If you go twice in a day, you can only go pads one of those days. You’ve got to be in shorts and helmet the other practice. That kind of monkey-up our camp. You can’t do anything. By their letter of the law, anything that you do that is physical activity constitutes as a practice.”
If a coach conducts a walk-through or gives instruction to his players, it becomes an official practice for the team. Michael said all the rule changes coincide with the season starting earlier than years past during the hottest part of the calendar. Despite the adjustments and limitations, the Trojans made good use of their time at the church.
“We’re getting in some good work,” he said. “But not as much as we normally would get. The weather has been good.
“I hope they are able to build a closer bond than they already have,” Michael added. “You’ve got incoming ninth graders, so you’ve got young kids who haven’t been with us a lot. They’re getting to know those younger teammates. We’ve got some new guys that we’ve picked up in the offseason that didn’t play with us last year.”
All the returning Trojans and new Millington players spent the night in the church on air mattress Monday and Tuesday.
“Those guys are getting brought into the fold,” Michael said. “It just gives them the opportunity to spend consecutive days together and go through some tough things. Helps them build some trust and comradery. Hopefully those things will make the team tighter when they come out.”
The players shared meals and fellowship during periods of the three days. The third day featured a big practice and time spiritually bonding.
Senior Trojans like Kaleb Macklin, Eddie Macklin, Cory Smith and Zeb Marvin had a chance to develop additional leadership skills during the three-day camp.
“I hope that our seniors, and there’s not a lot of them, but a few that have been with us,” Michael said. “This will be their third season and they’ve played for three seasons like Kaleb, Eddie Corey and Zeb.
“They’ve endured what we’ve endured together,” he concluded. “They’ve been on the field going through it. I’m hoping those guys have taken the message we’ve been preaching all offseason from January on. It is that it doesn’t matter what you think. It only matters what you believe you can do. The only way your beliefs are going to come true, you’ve got to work and know confidently that, that belief is going to become a reality. That’s through hard work.”
The Trojans kickoff the 2018 season Aug. 17 hosting the Bolton Wildcats with the game scheduled to start at 7 p.m.