Teams faced off against each other, as well as against competition from other areas.
As Winterboro head coach Sheroderick Smith explained, the play date was less about the score and more about learning.
“As a coach in the summer, I don’t value wins or losses,” Smith said. “I value how we’re playing. Even though it’s good for the kids to get a win on the board, we’ve still got some things we’ve got to do. We’re going to play 16-20 games this summer. We’re trying to get all the practice we can get and hopefully that will give us enough practice time to give us a base. It’s a good momentum booster. We’ve got a lot of great teams here. Some teams travelled a long away. Some coaches were really impressed by the play date. This is probably the best play date in Talladega County as of right now because of the teams we have, some great talent, some great matchups. Some of our fans we’re very, very excited and they were here today. I value all the play dates because you can learn from it, especially the bench players.”
Smiths Station was one such team, having travelled close to two hours. However, the team, which was ranked as high as no. 7 last season in the ASWA class 6A rankings, was a quality opponent, winning all of their games for the day.
One of the team’s wins included a 31-27 victory over Talladega. Talladega head coach Chucky Miller expressed a sentiment similar to Smith in that the end result wasn’t important.
“This is the first play date in the year,” Miller said. “There’s going to be a lot of mistakes. Hopefully, playing these games, which with the running clock really it’s about playing half of a game, you’re just trying to get people to get used to each other, working on teamwork, and play through mistakes and learn how to compete. We’ve already played two today. We played good sometimes, bad sometimes. But it’s not November yet when it really counts, so we’re just working to get better win or lose.”
The Childersburg Tigers suffered through some losses on the day, including a 12-9 loss to Winterboro. Childersburg head coach Al Barnett, who graduated eight seniors from the past season’s team, noted the team for the upcoming season will be young and hopes to use the summer as a team to get a better feel for which of his players will step up to be key members.
“We brought 15 of our kids, some of our B-teamers and we played each group kind of equally,” Barnett said. “It’s just an opportunity to see what kids are capable of doing and to try to get you prepared for the next year. We have a lot of room for improvement. We’ve just got a lot of young kids. We have a few with experience coming back. We’ll just use these summer days to try to get better and at least have a feel for where we are going into the fall.”
Barnett mentioned his most experienced players—rising senior Trevor Bates and rising juniors Sy Butler and Kel Mitchell—as players he hopes will continue to improve and be leaders for the team in the upcoming season.
For Winterboro, Smith sees three players as being key for his team—point guard Phillip Cook, post player Jutorrius Cook, and Kenyatta Brown. Smith noted each player has a specific quality that needs improvement for the team to reach their full potential.
“These are three guys we’re going to lean on heavily to get us back to the goals we discussed in the meeting with one of the former coaches, coach Player,” Smith said. “He came and met with the guys yesterday and that meeting was right on time. So, we’re just going to build from that and hopefully in February we’ll be in the position we want to be in.”
TC Central didn’t win all of their games, including a 22-14 loss to travelling team Fairfield, but head coach Damien Dorsey said he’s already seen progress in how his team is playing differently.
“They’re becoming more of a team,” Dorsey said. “They’re coming together. We’ve got guys stepping up because we’re going to need more people to step up and get better. Tervarus Garrett is stepping up and being a good leader. He’s looking to score more this year.”
Munford defeated B.B. Comer 30-17, but Comer head coach Carson Grier said his team has only had two or three total practices so far this summer. Grier doesn’t want to overload his team during summer break, but is hopeful a trip to Samford will help his team.
“We’re going to go to Samford to play at team camp at Samford,” Grier said. “I’ve changed my theory a little bit because I’ve seen participation has gone down in sports throughout the state numbers-wise. I like the four days in summer instead of seven. We’ll go up there and play about eight or 10 games in two days at Samford and probably play a tournament at the end of that. Then, we’ll come back and have individual workouts.”