PREP FOOTBALL: Columbia back home from VSU
Columbia’s goal is pretty simple as it heads toward the regular season — be one percent better every day.
But with each camp the Tigers continue to go to, it may just be a little more than that.
Forty players headed north to Valdosta State’s camp over the weekend, which included three days of head-to-head competition. Multiple players stood out and showcased their talents throughout the camp and Columbia head coach Brian Allen was pleased with the effort he saw on both sides of the ball.
It’s the second straight summer the Tigers have attended the camp.
“I thought the kids competed and played at a high level,” Allen said. “I definitely see the fruits of the summer paying off. I was definitely pleasantly impressed with the way they came out and executed their assignments. We had few mental errors and missed assignments so I was pleased with the outcome in the three days there.”
The highlights of the camp were the one-hour head-to-head matchups. Columbia faced off against several talented squads, including Bartram Trail and Palm Coast from Class 7A.
Each team had 10 plays to drive the length of the field and score. Although players weren’t wearing pads and only thudding was allowed, Allen says quarterback Jordan Smith and his receivers really stood out.
“I think Jordan missed on some things maybe twice in the three days we were there,” Allen said. “He’s really coming into his own and I’m extremely impressed with how he’s grown and developed this summer and offseason. I’m expecting him and the core guys around to have a really big year.”
Players also competed in other drills. Friday night saw wide receivers go 1-on-1 against defensive backs and linebackers and Saturday night featured a goal line challenge, which Allen says Columbia won.
“I don’t think we lost many games against the teams we scrimmaged but I thought we played really good,” Columbia receiver Bobby Fulton said. “Defense played very well and offensively we executed and scored the ball like we need to do.”
ENOUGH OF BARTRAM TRAIL ALREADY
Bartram Trail, which advanced to the state title game last season, has faced off against Columbia several times this summer, either at camps or 7-on-7 scrimmages. The Tigers have certainly gotten enough looks of the Tigers in what could be a playoff matchup this season.
Maybe even too many looks.
“We played Bartram Trail about three times up there. We got tired of playing them but that was a pretty good matchup,” Fulton said.
Offensive lineman Damien Lewis was a bit more blunt. He’s ready for some new competition.
“We’re getting tired of playing them. We don’t want to see them until November,” Lewis said.
OFFENSIVE LINE IMPRESSES
Lewis, who starts at center, is only one of two starters returning from last season along with left tackle Zach Bedanbaugh. Columbia has had to replace starters Terill Newsome, Scott Carmen and all-state selection Jevon Williams, but the new crop featuring Marvin Farmer, Darius Kimble, Mical Anderson and Tyler Ford held their own this weekend.
“The offensive line competed well,” Allen said. “We had a few mental mistakes here and there against a couple of teams but I saw them compete and get after it so that’s a huge step forward from where we started at in the spring.”
Allen says the new unit has performed beyond expectations to up this point. But of course, Allen always demands more from his players and hopes to see continued growth heading into the regular season and beyond.
“As far as a summer is concerned I’d say they’re ahead of schedule, but it’s not where I want it to be when we talk about November and getting hot at that point,” Allen said. “At that time the goal is to be comfortable with everything we’re doing and all the calls after 10 weeks.”
Columbia opens training camp on July 30.
Columbia still doesn’t have an opponent for its preseason classic and time may be running out to find one.
“I’m trying to keep my ears and eyes open in the next few weeks and hopefully something will break,” Allen said.
If not, the Tigers will ride training camp right into their season opener against Gainesville on Aug. 23. Columbia opens training camp on July 30.
“I’m not necessarily worried. If we don’t have one I think we’ll be fine and we’ll go into week one against Gainesville,” Allen said.